What happens if you lose Mental Capacity?

Horrifying thought, however none of us can know what will happen to us one day. We may not be in a sane or appropriate state to make important, and potentially life changing, decisions.

Mental capacity means the ability to make or communicate specific decisions at the time they need to be made. To have mental capacity you must understand the decision you need to make, why you need to make it, and the likely outcome of your decision.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enables your attorney to manage your financial affairs and/or make decisions about what care and medical treatment you should have if you lose your mental capacity.

There are a number of reasons why you might need someone to make decisions for you or act on your behalf:

  • This could just be a temporary situation: for example, if you’re in hospital and need help with everyday tasks such as paying bills.
  • You may need to make longer-term plans if, for example, you have been diagnosed with dementia and you may lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions in the future.

It is a common scenario where a person hasn’t made a LPA and then loses capacity.  In those circumstances it is too late to then make a LPA and instead those left caring for an individual must embark on a lengthy and expensive application to the Court of Protection.

Do not assume that if you are married or in a civil partnership that your spouse would automatically be able to deal with your bank account and pensions, and make decisions about your healthcare, if you lose the ability to do so. This is not the case. Without an LPA, they won’t have the authority.

A LPA enables you to again take control whilst you still do have mental capacity and nominate those who you trust to manage your financial affairs and ensure that any care fees are paid, for example.

If you also arrange a Health and Welfare LPA, your attorneys can protect your interests by having authority to make decisions (and perhaps challenge decisions) about what medical treatment is in your best interests. This could include negotiating about the right care package for you.

If you are looking to assign a LPA Howells can help. We are normal, down to earth people and can support you to create a Will and make special arrangements for your family. We have fixed fees and offer a free initial 15 minute consultation. Call us to find out more on 0114 249666 or email us at [email protected]