Helping someone make decisions

Some people are unable to carry out some actions or make certain decisions by themselves, whilst others fear the onset of such a challenge in their future. This might be due to a learning disability or a mental health problem such as dementia for example.

There are different ways of helping:

Managing someone else's affairs can mean a number of things, including:

  • looking after their bank accounts, savings, investments or other financial affairs
  • buying and selling property on their behalf
  • claiming and spending welfare benefits on their behalf
  • deciding where they live
  • making decisions about their day-to-day personal care or healthcare   

Ways of helping with another's affairs

Through an agent

If you are unable to collect your benefits or tax credits you can appoint someone to collect them on your behalf. The person you appoint is often referred to as an agent. 

  • If your benefits or tax credits are paid into your bank or building society account, contact them to arrange for the agent, or other appointed person, to collect the money. 
  • If the money is paid into a post office card account and needs to be regularly collected by someone else, contact the post office to arrange for the agent, or other appointed person, to collect it. 

Through an appointee

If you need help claiming and dealing with welfare benefits or tax credits you can ask for someone else to be made an appointee. Appointees must be appointed by one of the following to act on your behalf:

  • A court of law
  • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

Lasting power of attorney (LPA)

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows you to appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf. You need to have capacity when you sign this document. The LPA replaced the 'Enduring Power of Attorney' in October 2007.

There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney:  

  1. Property and Affairs LPA - this enables you to make decisions on someone else's behalf about their property and affairs when they are no longer able to do so. This can include paying bills, managing a bank account or selling property.
  2. Personal Welfare LPA - this enables you to make decisions on someone else's behalf about their health and personal welfare, such as giving consent to medical treatment or deciding where they should live.   

Having an LPA in place means that the person you appoint will not have to go through the Court of Protection to make decisions on your behalf if you lose the mental capacity to do this for yourself.

To arrange a Lasting Power of Attorney you need to go through an application process. You do not need professional legal advice to fill out the forms. However, if there are complicated details or things you are unsure about you may want to ask a solicitor to help you. The LPA has to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used and there is a registration fee. 

It can only be used once you are unable to make your own decisions - a medical professional or court of law will help to decide if you have lost the mental capacity to make your own decisions.  For full details please visit the DirectGov website.

Citizens Advice Bureau

Advice and support including welfare benefits advice

Address: Citizens Advice Bureau
PO Box 1358

Telephone: 020 8427 9477