Legal Information

You may find yourself in the position where the person you are caring for is unable to take care of legal and medical decisions. If this is the case then you as the carer or someone else must take legal responsibility for making these decisions on behalf of the person you care for. As a carer you may decide that you are happy to take on this responsibility and that you are very familiar with the cared for persons wants and needs. However this is not always the case and you may be in the position where your caring role would impact upon your ability to take on this responsibility or perhaps you don’t feel like you are the right person to be making these sorts of decisions. In this instance someone else can be appointed to take on the legal responsibility of making decisions for the cared for person. There are a number of complicated terms for this process.

If the person you care for only needs someone else to sort out their state benefits for them then this can be done by through making yourself or someone else an appointee. The person who becomes the appointee is then able to organise the state benefits for the cared for person.

If the person you care for is capable of making their own decisions at the moment but is aware that they are unlikely to be capable of this in the future then they may decide to give someone else power of attorney. This involves getting a solicitor to draw up a legal document outlining the decisions that the person appointed will be responsible for. It must then be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. The person who is given power of attorney, either yourself as carer or someone else, must give their consent for this to happen and must be able to understand what they will be taking responsibility for. Although the person you care for can draw up and register a document giving someone else power of attorney whilst they are still capable of making their own decisions, the person with power of attorney will have no influence until the time the cared for person is no longer able to make their own decisions.

If no power of attorney is appointed and the person becomes too ill to make decisions for themselves then there is no one with the legal authority to make decisions on their behalf. In the short term, if a decision is needed then yourself as the carer or someone else looking after the cared for persons needs can apply for an Intervention order. This needs to go through the Sheriff’s Court and will result in a one off ruling about the particular decision which the order was applied for. In the longer term, a Guardianship order is needed to ensure there is someone legally responsible for decisions concerning the cared for person. Yourself as the carer, someone else known to the cared for person, or the Local Authorities can apply for a Guardianship order. Similar to an Intervention order, a Guardianship order must be applied for through the Sheriff’s Court. However, a Guardianship order gives the person applying for it the responsibility for all decisions in the cared for person’s future whereas the Intervention order is only in place for a single decision.

If the person you care for is unable to take care of their own finances then you can apply to have access to their monetary funds with the purpose of paying for what the adult needs on their behalf. This is known as intromission with funds. The forms to make an application of intromission with funds and supporting guidelines can be found here.