Mental capacity and the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (England and Wales)
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 came into force in 2007 and applies to people aged 16 and over in England and Wales.
The ways people can plan ahead vary across the four nations of the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and there are also some legal differences. The web pages in this section are about the ways people can plan ahead if they live in England and Wales. If you live in Scotland or Northern Ireland you should ask a healthcare or legal professional to give you information that’s relevant to that country.
The Mental Capacity Act aims to protect people who can’t make a decision for themselves. It means that a person can plan ahead for a time when they may not be able to make decision themselves. It clarifies who can make decisions, in which situations, and how they should go about it. There are many parts to the Act including parts on Lasting Power of Attorney and Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment.
The Act states that a person lacks capacity if they are unable to make a decision for themselves - in relation to a specific matter - because of an impairment of, or a disturbance in, the functioning of the mind or brain.
A person will lack capacity if they’re unable to meet one of the following criteria:
understand the information relevant to the decision
retain that information
use or weigh up that information as part of the process of making the decision
communicate their decision (whether by talking, using sign language or any other means).