What does lack of capacity mean?

Have you heard the term lack of capacity, and wonder what it means? We explore the meaning and what you need to consider.

In short, lack of capacity means the inability to make decisions for yourself, where you could endanger your life or that of others.

While most people regard this as something that happens on a permanent basis, due to mental impairment, it can also be recognised temporarily, if somebody contracts an illness, or is recovering from an accident.

The decision about lack of capacity is made by an approved medical professional, using a set of recognised questions. Sometimes it is deemed that a person may lack the capacity to make some decisions, but not others.

The best way to protect your life and that of your loved ones is to set up Lasting Powers of Attorney as soon as you are able to do so. Making the choices for who are the best people to make decisions for you when you are unable to do so, is so much better when you are fighting fit. It will also give you the chance to talk to your choice of attorney to ensure their wishes and decisions will be aligned with yours.

We believe Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) are the most important documents you can have.

A true life saver.

We should add at this point that once they have been drawn up and signed, they do have to be registered to be recognised, so be sure to complete the whole process.

Should you or a loved one be deemed as lacking capacity without an LPA then the Court of Protection has to step in and make the decision for you. That can be a very lengthy process – there is a waiting list of up to one year currently. It can also be very expensive, particularly when compared to the price of setting up LPAs.

If your loved one is named via your LPA, then they can proceed and make decisions for you.

They don’t need the approval of other family members or partners, so they can act quickly if required to do so.

If there is no LPA and the Court of Protection steps in, they can nominate a family member to act on your behalf. However, they would be required to report back to the Court of Protection, and may also not be the person you would have chosen.

If you are concerned that this may happen, you could also consider setting up a living will.

This documents any treatments you would not wish to receive, should you be unable to make the decision. But we will explore living wills in more detail in a future blog post.

We still believe that LPAs are the best way to protect you, and would encourage you to seriously consider these.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail, and get specific advice for your situation, please contact us on 01344 875 310.

lack of capacity