Making decisions for others

Where a person cannot make their own decisions, whether through dementia or a learning disability or other mental health problem, the Court of Protection decides who should make those decisions for them. Those closest to them, such as a family member or a close friend, must be appointed by the Court if they are to make decisions for them. The person appointed is called a "deputy".

The Court appoints deputies for finances and/ or health and welfare. A deputy for finance manages money and this could involve things such as running bank accounts, paying bills, selling property etc. A deputy for health and welfare makes decisions about matters such as medical treatment, where they should live and how they are looked after.

If the person lacks the ability to make a Will or make gifts an application can also be made to put a Will in place for that person or to make gifts on their behalf. All decisions made on a person's behalf must be made in their best interests.

Applications to the court can be costly and time consuming and the person appointed as deputy may not be the person you would have chosen yourself. If a Lasting Power of Attorney is prepared before you lose capacity then this will mean that your attorney can make decisions for you without the need for an application to the Court of Protection. Although this would allow your attorney to make decisions about finances or health and welfare it would not allow them to make gifts on your behalf, prepare a Will for you or in some cases act as Trustee. In these cases applications may still need to be made to the Court.