Make decisions for someone else

Sometimes a disability, illness or accident can make it difficult for someone to make decisions for themselves at the time that the decision needs to be made. This means that they may lack capacity.

If an adult lacks capacity to make their own decisions about their health, personal welfare, money or property, someone else can act on their behalf, as long as they have legal authority to do so. There are a number of different ways that this is possible.

Lasting power of attorney

A lasting power of attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more person to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. This gives you more control over what happens to you if, for example, you have an accident or an illness and can't make decisions at the time they need to be made.

You must be 18 or over and have mental capacity (the ability to make your own decisions) when you make your lasting power of attorney.

There are two types of lasting power of attorney:

  • health and welfare
  • property and financial affairs.

You can choose to make one type or both.

All lasting powers of attorney must be registered with the Office of the public guardian before they can be used.


If the person also has a large income, savings and investments or a property that needs looking after, the Court of Protection can appoint a deputy to make decisions on their behalf. 

A deputy is a person or organisation appointed by the Court of Protection to make decisions for someone who lacks mental capacity to make a decision for themselves at the time that it needs to be made.

A deputy can be a relative, friend or someone from an organisation such as a local authority or a solicitor. The deputy is responsible for making decisions for someone until the person dies or is able to make decisions on their own again.

There are two types of deputy, those who look after:

  • property and financial affairs (money); or
  • health and welfare.


An appointee can act on your behalf if you agree claiming benefits or state pension but find it difficult to manage your money. The department for work and pensions must agree that you need an appointee and that the appointee is suitable.

The appointee is usually a relative or a trusted friend. There are also organisations that can act as an appointee, for example the council, a not-for-profit organisation or a solicitor. Alternatively, we may do this for you.

For more information you can read our guide to the corporate appointee and deputyship service: