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Mental Capacity Act 2005

Explains how the Mental Capacity Act affects you and how you can plan ahead for when you no longer have the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself. Applies to England and Wales.


If you can’t make decisions for yourself because you don’t have the mental capacity to make them, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 tells you: 

  • What you can do to plan ahead
  • How you can ask someone else to make decisions for you
  • Who can make decisions for you if you haven't planned ahead

Quick facts

The Mental Capacity Act says you have these rights:

  • You'll be assumed to have capacity, unless you've had an assessment showing that you don't.
  • All decisions made for you when you've lost capacity should be made in your best interests.
  • Your liberty can only be taken away from you in very specific situations. This is called a deprivation of liberty. It should only be used if it's the least restrictive way of keeping you safe or making sure you have the right medical treatment.
  • You may have the right to get support from an advocate in certain circumstances. This is someone who listens to what you want and can speak for you, if that's what you want. But they don't have the legal authority to make financial or personal decisions for you.
  • A deputy is a person appointed by the court to make financial or personal decisions for you. They can do this when you've lost capacity to make those decisions for yourself.
  • The Court of Protection can make a decision over any doubts about what an advance decision means. They can also decide what an attorney under a lasting power of attorney, or a deputy, is allowed to do.
  • You can appoint an attorney while you have capacity. They can make financial or personal decisions for you when you’ve lost capacity.
  • You can make an advance decision. These only cover refusals of treatment and are legally binding.
  • You could also make an advance statement. Advance statements cover a wider range of issues and aren't legally binding. But your wishes and feelings should be consulted once you’ve lost capacity.

This information was published in April 2023. We'll revise it in 2026.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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