Mental Capacity and Powers of Attorney:
Issues around someone's mental capacity affect a suprisingly large number of people. It could be something that affects you or your family, and can be caused by illness, old age, or perhaps someone has been injured in an accident.
It can be very distressing when this affects someone close to you. As well as the distress itself there are practical issues which can cause more problems - including signing documents and managing their day to day affairs. In such circumstances it can be very useful to be able to let someone else sign documents on their behalf, and that is where Powers of Attorney and Deputyship orders come in.
These forms of representation can allow people to pay your bills, manage your care and clothing, sell your house, or even potentially change your Will if you are incapable of doing so yourself. So it is important for anyone, of any age or situation, to take legal advice on these matters.
There are two different types of forms/orders that can be made - Powers of Attorney and Deputyship Orders. We've set out a bit of information about each type below with a link to more information.
While considering these things a Living Will might be something you are interested in
Powers of AttorneyA power of attorney is a document that lets someone else sign documents on your behalf. In order to create a Power of Attorney you need to be capable of making your own decisions
Deputyship OrdersIf someone is not capable of making their own decisions then in order to let someone else manage their affairs a Deputyship Order is what is needed.
Compos Mentis - what?
In talking about mental capacity the phrases 'of sound mind' or 'Compos Mentis' are often used. Lawyers love a bit of Latin.
It's important to note however that as an example just because someone has dementia it does not automatically mean they are incapable of making their own decisions.
Free to make bad decisions
It's important not to equate making an "unwise" decision with being unable to make your own decisions.
One of our favourite parts of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice states that just because you make an unwise decision, does not mean you are mentally incapable!