Helping someone make decisions

Some people are unable to do certain things or make certain decisions by themselves. 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 could be:

  • 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 have someone to collect them for you. The person you appoint is often referred to as an agent. 

  • If it's paid into your bank or building society account, contact them to arrange for the agent, or other appointed person, to collect the money. 
  • If it's 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 getting welfare benefits or tax credits you can ask for someone to be your 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. It 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 lets you make decisions for someone else 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 lets you make decisions for someone else about their health and personal welfare. For example giving consent for medical treatment or deciding where to live.   

Having an LPA means that the person you appoint will not have to go through the Court of Protection to make decisions for you, 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, you may want to go through a solicitor if your situation is complex. The LPA has to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used. Be aware that there's 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 reached that point.  For full details please visit the DirectGov website