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28 Dealing with Someone Else's Affairs

1 Introduction

You may find that you have to help someone to deal with their affairs - perhaps an older or disabled relative or someone you care for. Usually, the help they need is with financial affairs, but sometimes decisions may also be needed about healthcare or other matters.

This leaflet describes the arrangements that must be made to help with, or take over, the management of someone else's affairs. It is written for the relatives, friends and carers of people who can no longer cope on their own, but it may also be useful for people who want to prepare for a time when they may no longer be able to handle their own affairs.

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There is information on:

2. What is 'mental capacity'?

3. When can I deal with someone's financial affairs?

4. How can I help someone to collect or spend their benefits and pensions?

5. When can I have access to someone's bank accounts?

6. What must an attorney do?

7. What if there is no enduring power of attorney?

8. What must a 'receiver' do?

9. What if a person recovers their mental capacity?

10. How can I make sure a disabled relative is cared for after I die?

11. Can I deal with decisions about someone's healthcare?

12. What if the person becomes involved in court proceedings?

13. Protecting vulnerable people from abuse

14. Further help

15. About this leaflet

All adults have the right to manage their own affairs and make their own decisions about finance, healthcare and other matters. Some may ask for help in dealing with their affairs or may wish to appoint someone to do it for them. Other people lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions, and legal arrangements may be needed for someone to take over their affairs.

This leaflet describes the powers available to enable you to deal with someone's affairs. These differ according to whether the person you are helping retains the mental capacity to make their own decisions and supervise your actions. For people who lack capacity, there are special rules, particularly for making financial and healthcare decisions. The leaflet is divided into four sections:

  • What the law says about mental capacity and decision-making;
  • Ways of arranging to deal with someone's financial affairs;
  • Decisions about someone's healthcare; and
  • What to do if you suspect that a vulnerable person is being abused.

This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Penny Letts, a policy consultant specialising in mental health and capacity issues.

Leaflet Version: November 2019

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