Mental capacity and lasting powers of attorney

Mental capacity means that a person is able to understand and retain information and make a choice based on that information. Unless it is proved otherwise every adult has the right to make his or her own decisions. Sadly people can lose their capacity to make a specific decision, for example as a result of mental impairment such as a dementia, learning disabilities or brain injury. Not only is this a testing time emotionally for them and their families but it can cause practical problems in dealing with day to day affairs.

Whilst a person has capacity they can make a Lasting Power of Attorney which enables to them to appoint someone they trust as an ‘attorney’ to make decisions on their behalf about their financial and/or personal welfare. In the absence of a Lasting Power of Attorney it is difficult to deal with the affairs of someone who has lost mental capacity unless an application is sent to the Court of Protection and a legal authority granted for a representative to become a Deputy.

"If you are caring for a family member or a friend who is suffering with loss of capacity, there is a wealth of information out there. Our Wills & Tax team can assist with advice on Lasting Powers of Attorney and applications, " says Julie Partington, solicitor in the Wills & Tax team. There are a number of charities and services that offer help including respite care, financial advice or just someone to talk to. Here is a list of some telephone numbers that may be able to assist:

Silverline 24 hour helpline: 0800 470 8090

Age UK 24 hour helpline: 0800 169 2081 Age UK

Bournemouth helpline: 01202 530530

Alzheimer’s Society helpline: 0300 222 1122

Memory cafes in Christchurch/Bournemouth/Poole area: 0300 123 1916

Our Wills & Tax Team, based in Christchurch, also cover Bournemouth, Poole and the New Forest. For a free initial chat, please call 01202 499255 and a member of the team will be happy to discuss any questions that you may have.