If someone has dementia, it may be that they lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themself. However, just because someone has dementia, it doesn’t automatically mean they lack mental capacity. People with dementia may lose mental capacity over time and ultimately may not be able to make their own decisions.
If someone with dementia still has mental capacity, they will be able to appoint a power of attorney to make decisions for them. If they lack mental capacity, they will not be able to appoint a power of attorney and may need to have a deputy to make decisions on their behalf. To determine whether they have mental capacity or not, they will need to have an assessment.
Mental capacity is a multifaceted concept that is not solely determined by illness or injury. It is crucial to approach this assessment with respect for an individual's autonomy and dignity. Recognising signs of deteriorating mental capacity and conducting assessments when necessary ensures that individuals receive the support and protection they need while upholding their right to make decisions to the best of their abilities.
A deputy is an individual appointed by the Court of Protection to handle your property and financial affairs when you're unable to do so due to a lack of mental capacity. Deputies can range from relatives and friends to spouses, partners, or even professionals like solicitors or social workers. However, it's essential to note that the chosen deputy must be at least 18 years old.
Once the Court of Protection designates a deputy, they issue a specific order outlining the scope of their authority. While both deputyship and Power of Attorney grant individuals the authority to act on your behalf if you lose mental capacity, they are distinct in several ways.
Power of Attorney is a legal document that enables you to proactively appoint a person to make decisions on your behalf. It is typically established in advance, well before the loss of mental capacity occurs.
Deputyship, on the other hand, is a measure of last resort. It comes into play when someone loses the capacity to make decisions, and there is no existing legal authority to act on their behalf. In such cases, the court appoints a deputy they believe is suitable, but the deputy's powers are more limited compared to those of an attorney.