1. When you can make decisions for someone

Someone can choose you to make and carry out certain decisions on their behalf.

They can ask you to do this:

  • now - for example, while they’re on holiday
  • in the future - for example, if they lose the mental capacity to make their own decisions

You can also apply to a court to help someone make decisions if they don’t have mental capacity now.

When someone can choose you

A person must have mental capacity when they choose you for short-term or long-term help with decisions.

Short-term help

You can be appointed to make decisions about someone’s money or property for a limited time - for example, while they’re on holiday.

They can appoint you with either:

  • a lasting power of attorney for ‘property and financial affairs’ - they’ll say when it starts and ends
  • an ‘ordinary power of attorney’ - you can only use this while they have mental capacity

To make an ordinary power of attorney, the person who appoints you needs to buy a document from a newsagent or use a solicitor.

Long-term help

You can be appointed with a lasting power of attorney to help someone make ongoing decisions about either or both:

  • money and property - starting at any time, or when they don’t have mental capacity
  • health and welfare - starting when they don’t have mental capacity

You can also help someone with ongoing decisions using an enduring power of attorney made before 1 October 2007.

When you apply to a court

Apply to a court to help someone without mental capacity with one-off or long-term decisions.

Check if someone already has an attorney or deputy to help them with decisions before you apply. You can’t apply to the court if they do - ask their attorney or deputy for help instead.

One-off decisions

Ask the Court of Protection to make:

If the decision is about medical treatment, you must consider any living will (advance decision) that the person has made.

Long-term help

Apply to the Court of Protection to help someone long-term with decisions about either or both:

  • money and property - as a ‘property and financial affairs deputy’
  • health and welfare - as a ‘personal welfare deputy’