Getting Your Affairs In Order

According to MHFA England, ”75% of mental illness (excluding dementia) starts before age 18. Around 792 million people are affected by mental health issues worldwide.”

Note: ”Dementia is more accurately described as a progressive neurological disorder  and typically does not occur before the age of 30”

What is mental capacity?

”Mental capacity is the ability to make a decision. Someone lacks mental capacity when they’re unable to make a particular decision at the time it needs to be made. Someone may lack capacity to make a decision about some things, for example, financial issues, but can still have the capacity to make other decisions, for example, day-to-day things like what to wear. People who may lack capacity include those with dementia, a condition that affects their memory or thinking, a learning disability, severe mental health illness, frailty, delirium or confusion, memory or thinking, problems caused by medication, a terminal illness who are approaching the end of their life.” –

No one intends to be sick or lose the ability to make decisions in the future. However, when you are no longer able to take care of your affairs yourself someone is going to need the authority to step in and handle things for you. This kind of planning can make all the difference in an emergency situation.

Managing affairs can mean a number of things, including:

  • Looking after your bank accounts, savings or investments 
  • Buying and selling property on your behalf
  • Making decisions about your day-to-day personal care or health care

Important Legal Documents You May Need as You Age

1. Wills and Power of Attorney – The main two legal documents for managing someone’s affairs are Wills and Powers of Attorney. It’s important to understand that these documents work in different time frames. This means that you might need to have both a Power of Attorney (often called your agent or attorney-in-fact) to take care of your affairs while you are alive, and a Will (an Executor – the person you name in your Will) to wind up your affairs after you are gone. Is best to get things sorted now as the court might not appoint the person you would have appointed had you had a choice to do so.

Remember: You can only make a power of attorney whilst you have the mental capacity to do so. 

You can find more information on how to choose your executor and get started with a power of attorney here: 

‘Choosing Your Executor’:

‘Power of Attorney – How To Get Started’: 

2. Living Will also known as An Advance Decision allows you to express your desire to refuse medical treatment in the future. An advance decision lets your healthcare team know your wishes if you lose the capacity to make or communicate decisions about your treatment. An advance decision is legally binding. 

3. An Advance Statement covers any aspect of your future health or social care, such as your dietary requirements, your religious & spiritual beliefs, and values, do you prefer a shower instead of a bath or details on who will look after your dog if you become unable too. Read More: ‘Information You Need To Share About Your Pets’. An advance statement is not legally binding and you can write it yourself, as long as you’re capable of making decisions for yourself. However, it is important to provide a copy of the advance statement to everyone involved in your care.

Plan Ahead Now

Planning ahead can help you get the care you need, and it can make life easier for your partner and family when the time comes. Discussing these matters might not be easy but by letting your loved ones know about your wishes, you can save them from making difficult decisions later. 

Useful links:

 ‘The Dying Matters’ website has information on death and dying, including talking about death and dying, including information for carers and loved ones too.

 ‘Mind’ is a mental health charity in England and Wales which offers information and advice to people with mental health problems.

‘GOV.UK’ – You can find guidance on the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice

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