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Legal

Making decisions

The person you care for may still be able to make decisions about their care and finances but there may come a time when someone needs to make decisions on their behalf. Sometimes it’s temporary, because of illness or a hospital stay, but it may be long-term, if they have late-stage dementia or a serious accident, for example. Loss of mental capacity can happen unexpectedly so it’s a good idea for everyone to have arrangements in place, such as a power of attorney or an advance decision.

It can be hard for anyone to think about a time when they might lose mental capacity. Being diagnosed with a condition such as dementia can make this a very real prospect. Talking about who will make decisions on their behalf can be difficult because:

  • they are finding it hard to accept an illness or the prospect of poor health in the future
  • they may be afraid of what the future holds
  • you may be afraid of upsetting them
  • it means losing independence and control
  • managing money can be a sensitive subject
  • family members might be upset at their choices.

There are positive benefits of putting arrangements in place and many people feel relieved once it is done because they know their wishes have been documented, there is clarity for the future and they have taken control.

If the person you care for wants to give someone authority to make decisions for them, there are different options. If they want someone to make decisions about their money or care in the future, they will need a lasting power of attorney. There are two types:

  • property and financial affairs – which can be used by the ‘attorney’ straight away if required
  • health and welfare – only used when you lose mental capacity

If your relative doesn’t set up a Lasting Power of Attorney and then they lose capacity, you might have to go to the Court of Protection to get permission to act on their behalf. This can be a lengthy and expensive process.

You should also think ahead about your own future and setting up a power of attorney for yourself as well as making a will.

We have information on mental capacity which explains the available options including power of attorney.

The government website has advice on making a will.

Advocacy

An independent advocate helps you to:

  • express your views and concerns
  • access information and services
  • explore choices and options
  • defend and promote your rights and responsibilities

Advocacy support services can be found in our service provider directory.

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