Everyone has the right to make decisions for themselves. However if someone no longer has the 'mental capacity' to make decisions, someone else may need to manage their affairs.

It might give you peace of mind to think about who you would trust to manage your affairs if this were to happen to you. You may also want to know what this responsibility involves.

You may also want to look into getting an advocate to help you express your wishes or speak on your behalf. 

On this page you can find information on how to legally give someone else responsibility to manage your financial and/or legal affairs. This is known as lasting power of attorney (LPA).

Under a power of attorney, the chosen person (the attorney) can make decisions that are as valid as one made by the person themselves (the donee).

Ordinary Power of Attorney allows you to have someone manage your affairs or make decisions on your behalf even when you are able to do so yourself.

Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to plan ahead for a time when you may have difficulty making some decisions for yourself because a change in your mental abilities means you can’t make informed choices. You can nominate someone to have property and affairs lasting power of attorney or personal welfare lasting power of attorney or both.  

Find out more about Lasting Power of Attorney

To create a Lasting Power of Attorney fill in the form on gov.uk

For more information and advice visit the Office of the Public Guardian website. 

If you are worried about being medically treated when you are unconscious, or have strong feelings about the treatment you do not wish to get, you may want to make an advance decision, sometimes referred to as a living will. You must be deemed to have capacity at the time you wish to make the advance decision. It can also be cancelled or altered at any time when you still have the capacity to do so.

You should let your immediate family and your doctor know about your advance decision (living will).

This is a legally binding decision about things like getting a blood transfusion, organ transplant or being fed through a tube. It will be upheld in a situation where you are unable to make an informed choice because you are unconscious, you have a learning disability or an illness like dementia. An advance decision (living will) to refuse treatment for mental disorder can be overruled if the person is detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act.

You can also make a written statement with details of your dietary preferences, religious or cultural preferences for your end of life care. Such written statements are not legally binding but health and social workers should take them into account when planning your care.

Compassion in Dying has downloadable advance decision forms and more information about living wills. 

You should let your immediate family and your doctor know about the medical treatment you might want in the future if you might need support to make important decisions. This is called an advance decision or ‘living will’ (see above).

If someone needs support to make important decisions and has not given anyone lasting power of attorney, another person can become a deputy or appointee to handle their financial affairs.

An appointee is the best option if the person has a low level of financial assets and doesn’t have any other income sources. They are responsible for managing someone’s benefits, paying bills and managing a small and limited amount of savings. Find out more about becoming an appointee for someone claiming benefits.

A deputy is the best option if the person’s financial affairs are more complicated, for example if they have various sources of income, investments or savings. They manage all assets if the person becomes incapable of doing so. Find out more about making an application for deputyship.