Managing Someone Else’s Affairs
There are many reasons you may have to manage the affairs of someone you care for, either in the short or longer term.
What does managing someone else’s affairs mean?
Managing someone’s affairs basically refers to looking after everything in their life, aside from the actual practical job of caring for them directly. It differs from role to role, but caring for someone could include some or all of the following things:
- looking after their bank accounts, savings, investments, property, and other financial affairs
- buying and selling property on their behalf
- claiming welfare benefits on their behalf
- keeping on top of bills, rent, fuel costs, council tax, health care costs and every day spending on their behalf
- deciding where they live and making sure their home is safe and that they are comfortable
- making decisions about their day-to-day personal care; how and who their practical care tasks are carried out by
- managing their health care, making choices on their behalf now and/or in the future
- organising care for their children and/or pets if they should lose the capacity to do so themselves
As you can see, managing someone else’s affairs can be very full on, as you juggle all sorts of different responsibilities – and that’s before you even think about adding your own life and your own affairs into the equation! The good news is that there are various help and support options available to you, which we have listed below.
When to manage someone else’s affairs?
There are many reasons you may have to manage the affairs of someone you care for, either in the short or longer term. It may become a permanent part of your caring role if the person you care for doesn’t have the mental or physical capacity to manage alone, or it might be temporary them while they recover from an accident, illness or injury.
Every caring situation is unique, and if you are unsure as to whether someone needs help with their affairs or not, start by simply asking. If they are not well enough to understand or you feel that they are unable to make the decision themselves, you may find it useful to get a free carer’s assessment via your local authority.
Planning for the Future
It can feel scary and difficult to talk about what could happen in the future, especially in the case where you are caring for someone who is declining in their health. However, planning ahead with the one you love can prove to be invaluable in making both of you feel more comfortable, confident, and safe in your future decisions.
Consider sitting down with your doctor or health professional to see if you can work out what some of the best options might be, so that the person you care for is part of the decision-making process while they can be. And don’t forget, sometimes you may only need to care for someone else’s affairs for a temporary period, for example while they are in hospital.
The Mental Capacity Act
When it comes to making decisions for someone, regardless of the situation, it can be tricky to know if they have the mental capacity to choose for themselves or not. Whether the one you care for has a permanent disability, or a progressive illness, it is important to carefully assess their understanding of a situation before making any decisions for them. The Mental Capacity Act of 2005 states that someone’s ability to choose for themselves is based on four principles:
- Are they able to understand all of the relevant information of the decision?
- Are they able to retain all of the information long enough to make the decision?
- Are they able to understand and weigh up all of the different options available to them before making a decision?
- Are they able, in any way, to communicate their decision?
If the answer is no to any of the above, and you can provide significant proof of this, only then they might be considered to lack the mental capacity to make the decision for themselves.
It is important to remember that someone’s ability to make a decision can change over time, and that some people are able to understand and make some decisions, but not others. Never assume that someone does not have the capacity to make a decision. If in doubt, check with your health care professional.
Lasting Power of Attorney
In certain circumstances, the best option for the one that you care for might be to hand the decision-making power over to another person entirely, which would probably be you, as their carer. This might be because they have had a disability or illness from birth, because of a sudden accident, or because a decision needs to be made quickly and it cannot wait for them to become well enough to make it.
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) gives you the legal rights to call the shots on behalf of a dependant.
Things to consider
The most important thing to do when making decisions for someone else, is to always keep their best interests at heart. There are many things to consider when weighing up a decision on someone else’s behalf, from their current situation, to effects on their future, to anything they have communicated to you in the past. You should also consider their feelings, beliefs, values, and relationships. It is important that any decisions made on someone else’s behalf take into consideration their best interests, although close family and a carer’s view may also be consulted. Any action you choose should not restrict the person’s rights where possible, and you should never make an assumption about their quality of life. You might want to consider the possibility that they might regain their capacity, and if so, whether the decision can be put off until they can make the choice for themselves.
When Health and Social Services make decisions
If you are caring for someone who does not have the capacity to make their own choices, occasionally it will be up to the health and social services to make a decision on their behalf.
Remember, never assume that you know what is best for another person, and always always keep their best interests at heart. Making decisions for someone else can be difficult at the best of times, so if in doubt make sure to talk through the options with them, refer to the Mental Capacity Act, or discuss options at length with those who are close to them and/or professionals.