Managing someone else's affairs

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 aims to protect people aged 16 and over who are unable to make certain decisions for themselves.

The Mental Capacity Act enables people to choose someone to manage their finances and property should they become incapable of doing so, or to make health and welfare decisions on their behalf. This needs to be carefully thought out and the best way to do this is to plan for the future by drawing up a legal agreement known as a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

Ordinary Power of Attorney

An Ordinary Power of Attorney is a legal document giving someone else authority to act on your behalf. However, it is different from an LPA because it is only valid if you have mental capacity to make all of your own decisions about your finances.

You can therefore continue to advise the person making decisions for you, and keep an eye on what they are doing. You can limit the power you give to your attorney so that they can only deal with certain assets, for example, your bank account but not your home. This allows you to have someone managing your affairs or making some decisions on your behalf, even when you are able to do so yourself or make all of your own decisions.

Lasting Power of Attorney

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 introduced a new type of power of attorney that replaced the Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). It is known as a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). An LPA is a legal document. This allows people to choose someone who can make decisions about their health and welfare, as well as their finances and property. The 'attorney' is the person chosen to make decisions on their behalf. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows you to plan ahead for a time when you may have difficulty making some decisions for yourself because of a change in your mental abilities.

There are two types of LPA: 

  • A Property and Affairs LPA enables you to arrange for someone to make decisions on your behalf about your property and affairs when you are no longer able to do so. This can include paying bills, managing a bank account or selling property. 
  • A Personal Welfare LPA enables you to arrange for someone to make decisions on your behalf about your health and personal welfare, such as giving consent to medical treatment or deciding where you should live.

Anyone aged 18 or over with the capacity to do so can make an LPA and can appoint one or more attorneys to act in their best interest and consider their needs and wishes as far as possible. The Office of the Public Guardian can give you more information, including the Code of Practice and other guidance.

Help with a specific decision

You can ask the Court of Protection (COP) to make a one-off decision about:

  • emergency medical treatment for someone
  • non-urgent issues regarding someone’s care, for example where they should live or the sale of property.

You must always consider any ‘advance decisions’ that the person may have made to refuse certain medical treatment.

Helping someone long-term

You can help someone with their financial affairs or their personal welfare on a long-term basis if you:

  • were nominated to be their ‘attorney’ when they made a lasting power of attorney (LPA) or enduring power of attorney (EPA)
  • apply to the Court of Protection to become a deputy when they lose their mental capacity.

You should check if the person already has an attorney or deputy acting for them before you apply.

How to apply

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) can advise how to prepare an LPA and it will need to be registered with them before it can be used. The online tool can guide you through signing your LPA and registering it with the Office of the Public Guardian. 

Making a lasting power of attorney online

How much does it cost?

It costs £110 to register an LPA unless you get a reduction or exemption. An LPA is a powerful and important legal document and you may wish to seek legal advice from a solicitor with experience of preparing them. There are likely to be costs involved for this work. 

Important information

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) replaced Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in October 2007. An existing EPA remains valid as long as it was signed before that date and while the person was still able to make decisions for themselves. If they start to lose the ability to make reasoned decisions then the EPA must be registered with the OPG. If there is no EPA or LPA in place, a deputy may be appointed to make the decisions needed. Please contact the OPG for further advice.

Useful contacts:

Richmond Carers Hub Service
Address: 5 Briar Road, Twickenham, TW2 6RB
Phone: 020 8867 2380

Office of the Public Guardian (OPC)
Address: PO Box 16185, Birmingham, B2 2WH
Phone: 0300 456 0300
Fax: 0870 739 5780

Richmond Citizens Advice Bureau
Address: Citizens Advice Richmond, 5th Floor, Regal House, 70 London Road, Twickenham, TW1 3QS
Phone: 020 8712 7800