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What happens if I can’t make decisions for myself

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If you are unable to make a decision for yourself then your rights are protected by law. This section explains what the law says about how decisions must be made. It also explains who makes decisions if you have not planned ahead.


2.1 What is ‘capacity’?

Capacity is the ability to make decisions for yourself about a particular matter. ‘Having capacity’ means being able to understand and retain information about the decision, understanding the consequences of any choice you make, taking that information into account, and being able to communicate your wishes.

2.2 The Mental Capacity Act

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 was created to protect people who can’t make decisions for themselves. It sets out in law how decisions should be made on behalf of a person who lacks capacity.

2.3 Best interests decisions

The Mental Capacity Act says that anyone who makes a decision for you must act in your ‘best interests’.

2.4 Court Appointed Deputies

If you lack capacity and haven’t made a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare (LPA), and there are ongoing decisions that need to be made about your health or welfare then someone close to you can apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy.

2.5 Independent Mental Capacity Advocates

If you don’t have any family members or friends who can be involved in the decision-making process and you haven’t made an Advance Decision or Lasting Power of Attorney, then an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) may be appointed.