elderly woman

What is Mental Capacity?

Someone lacking Mental Capacity is unable to do one or more of the following four things:

  • Understand information provided about a particular decision.
  • Retain that information long enough to make a decision.
  • Consider and assess the information to make a decision.
  • Communicate a decision
    • by talking
    • through sign language
    • or any other means.

This may be because of:

  • an illness
  • a disability such as a mental health problem or a stroke
  • an addiction e.g. drugs or alcohol.

In order to protect the rights of the vulnerable various acts have been introduced including:

Useful video:

Source: Dorset County Council (ignore the contact information unless you live in the area).

MCA (2005)

The principles of the MCA 2005 are that a person:

  • Must be assumed to have capacity unless it is established that they lack capacity.
  • Is not to be treated as unable to make a decision, unless all practical steps to help them to do so have been taken unsuccessfully.
  • Is not to be treated as unable to make a decision merely because they make an unwise decision.

Any act done, or decision made, under the MCA 2005 for or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity must be done, or made, in their best interests.

Further guidance for professionals and social workers can be found on the Capacity Guide website.

Wills, Probate & Later Life Planning

Our Wills, Probate and Later Life Planning team are all experts in their field. They will be happy to provide further advice including:

  • How to put plans in place to minimise the risk, should you lose the ability to make decisions in the future e.g. Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
  • How to protect someone's rights, should they lose the ability to make decisions for themselves but do not have, for example, an LPA in place.

Further information can be found on the following websites:

Wills, Probate & Later Life Planning Team

Jean Foster




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Susan Lund




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Tom Metcalf-Jackson



Probate Specialist

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Jeremy Sharples




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