When someone cannot make their own decisions

Find out what to do if someone cannot make decisions because of a disability

If a person lacks 'mental capacity' because of a disability, they may not be able to make decisions about certain things. 

This can include decisions about healthcare and money. For example, if they cannot:

  • understand information about a decision
  • remember that information
  • use that information to make a decision
  • communicate their decision by talking, using sign language or any other means

Once they are over the age of 16, it may be necessary for someone else to become what's called a 'deputy' for this person.

You can find guide for parents and carers to make financial decisions for a young person who lacks mental capacity on GOV.UK.

Find options when someone lacks 'mental capacity' on essex.gov

Helping someone manage their benefits

If a person finds it difficult to apply for and manage their benefits a family member can apply for the right to deal with them. This is called being an appointee.

Find out more about becoming an appointee on GOV.UK

Becoming responsible for big decisions 

Someone may need to make more in depth decisions on behalf of a person that lacks mental capacity. We call this a deputy.

You can be a deputy for different areas of someone's life, such as finances or personal welfare.

A property and affairs deputy can make decisions about financial matters, such as: 

  • paying bills  
  • buying services 
  • organising their pension 
  • signing a tenancy agreement if they chose to live away from the family home 

A personal welfare deputy makes decisions about:

  • medical treatment
  • the way a person is looked after

To become a deputy you will need to apply to the Court of Protection. There is a fee to pay, and you need to renew this yearly. 

A solicitor can help you with this process, but you do not need to use one if you do not want to. Making the application yourself will mean you will not have to pay solicitor fees.  

Find out more about becoming a deputy on GOV.UK