An individual can lack metal capacity if they have an injury, disorder or condition that affects the way their mind works. People are considered to lack mental capacity if they have impairments that mean they are unable to make an explicit decision.
When does someone lack mental capacity?
It is important to understand whether a person has the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves when it comes to Power of Attorney. This could impact how you can deal with that person’s affairs, such as whether it is still possible to create a lasting power of attorney or not.
It is also important to know at what point a person has lost their mental capacity so that a personal welfare lasting power of attorney or enduring power of attorney can be registered.
If a person can make a decision for themselves, they are said to have the mental capacity to make that decision. If that person is unable to make that decision due to some kind of mental disability, they can be said to lack mental capacity. The disability causing this may be permanent or temporary and could be caused by:
- Mental health problems
- Brain injury
- Alcohol or drug dependency
- Side effects of certain medical treatments
- Other illnesses or disabilities
How can you work out if a person has mental capacity?
Some general guidelines exist to help work know whether a person has mental capacity.
A person is unable to decide if they cannot:
- Understand the information necessary to help make an informed decision, even when information is given in a way that meets their needs for example, in sign language or simple terms
- Trouble remember that information
- Use the information to help them to make a decision
- Communicate their decision in any way
- A person may lack the capacity to make all decisions, or they may only have the capacity to make certain decisions but not others.
Capacity assessments should be conducted if the individual in question is having difficulty understanding or making decisions themselves.
An individual may have capacity to make some or part decisions, but not others. Many professionals could be involved in assessing capacity such as doctors, solicitors and social workers.