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Managing someone's legal affairs

Legal issues for carers

There may be a time when you need to make decisions for the person you care for because they're unable to do so. This is quite common. The Mental Capacity Act is designed to help you with making decisions that are in the person's interests.

It is estimated that more than two million people in England and Wales lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. This may be due to:

  • Old age, particularly if someone has dementia.
  • Learning disabilities.
  • Mental health difficulties.
  • Brain injuries.
  • Other serious medical illnesses.

When someone is incapable of looking after their own affairs, the law allows other people to act on their behalf.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005, most of which came into force in October 2007, aims to help people who may not be able to make their own decisions so that:

  • They can make their own decisions wherever possible.
  • They can make decisions, in advance of losing capacity, that can be used at a future date.
  • They can appoint another person, before they lose capacity, to make decisions on their behalf at a future date.
  • The Court of Protection can make decisions.
  • The Court of Protection also can appoint another person to make decisions.
  • Acts of care and treatment can be carried out in the absence of other formal authority.

This section explains about the Mental Capacity Act and affects you and the person you care for. It has information about how to apply the Mental Capacity Act, for example through making advance decisions.

It provides information on the different types of power of attorney, as well as:


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Page last reviewed: 15/08/2012

Next review due: 15/08/2014

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