The concept that one day you might not be able to make decisions for yourself is an uncomfortable one. However, planning for this eventuality is a prudent idea as giving someone, typically a family member or close friend, lasting powers of attorney will make the situation much easier to handle if you do lose capacity.

What is mental capacity and how is it judged?

When someone refers to ‘having mental capacity', it means whether they still have the ability to make decisions for themselves. Once this capacity has been lost, in a medical sense, the person with lasting powers of attorney, or a deputy, takes charge of decisions regarding that person's welfare.

Only a GP, or other qualified, medical professional can decide if someone has lost capacity. Or, if there is disagreement, the Court of Protection can also make a ruling.

Oratto member solicitors are experienced in these issues and will be able to advise and guide you, depending on your circumstances.

What is lasting power of attorney and why is it a good idea ?

Lasting powers of attorney give the appointed person legal authority to carry out decisions in the future if you become unable to, or don't want to. There are two types of lasting power of attorney; one relating to personal welfare and another to property and finance.

Unfortunately, dementia is an illness which strikes all too often among UK citizens - removing the mental capacity to make decisions from the sufferer. If lasting powers of attorney are in place, then the patient will have been able to make decisions about what they want to happen once they've lost capacity; such as choosing a care home, or stipulating the types of healthcare treatment they wish to receive.

Oratto member lawyers have the skill and expertise to handle the assigning of lasting power of attorney with sensitivity and care. Sometimes it isn't easy to face the prospect of an unpleasant task, but by dealing with it whilst you still have mental capacity it will make everything more straightforward.

It's important to remember that lasting powers of attorney can be assigned only while you still have mental capacity.

But I'm worried that I'm effectively signing my life away.

This is absolutely not the case. You can choose whether the power of attorney is used before, or only once you have lost mental capacity. And should you lose capacity temporarily, if you fall into a coma for example, then the lasting powers of attorney can be used on that temporary basis. Once you become able to make your own decisions again, then you can do so.

Oratto can quickly put you in contact with a solicitor who can help to take any worry and uncertainty out of the situation for you. They will make assigning lasting power of attorney a smooth process for you, using their years of experience.

It's important to remember that if you lose capacity without having given lasting powers of attorney to a relative or trusted friend, then that person will have to go through a long and potentially expensive process in the Court of Protection in order to become a deputy.

If you have prepared beforehand then you can have the peace of mind that should anything happen to you, your affairs will be handled swiftly, correctly and in accordance with your wishes.

There are a number of ways to contact Oratto, by phone, an online chat or by filling in our Oratto Match form; either way, we will quickly and efficiently ensure you are put in contact with a member solicitor who is right for you.

Oratto member lawyers – there for you before you need them.