Adults with incapacity: code of practice for those authorised to access funds

Guidance for individuals and organisations authorised to withdraw funds from the account of an adult and apply them for the adult's benefit.


The Act says that the person's present and past feelings and wishes must be followed as far as possible. Some adults will be able to express their wishes and feelings clearly, even although they would not be capable of taking the action or decision which you are considering. For example, the adult may continue to have opinions about a particular item of household expenditure without being able to carry out the transaction personally. In other cases special effort may be required to communicate with the adult. This might mean using memory aids, pictures, non-verbal communication, advice from a speech and language therapist, or an independent advocate.

In communicating with the adult the following points may be helpful:

  • take time to explain to the adult what decision requires to be made and what issues are involved;
  • use simple language;
  • choose a time of day when the adult is alert and ready for a discussion;
  • choose a quiet location where interruptions are unlikely;
  • use any aids which might be helpful, such as pictures or videos;
  • where there are language or speech difficulties, seek assessment and support from a speech and language therapist;
  • use appropriate visual aids or sign language for those with hearing difficulties;
  • ensure that any mechanical devices such as hearing aids, or voice synthesiser, are used properly to assist communication;
  • in extreme cases of communication difficulties, seek advice from the adult's doctor about what kinds of specialised assistance might be available;
  • maximise the help of others who know the adult and who are trusted by the adult, for example relatives, friends, GP, the adult's named person (if there is one), to ascertain whether the adult has recently expressed views on the matter in question; or to help you to explain the matter to the adult and seek the adult's views; but be careful to ensure that they are helping to communicate the adult's views without imposing their own. (Their own views may also be important, but that is a separate matter.);
  • use the services of an advocacy project which supplies volunteers or other staff to promote independently the rights, views and wishes of people who have difficulty in expressing these for themselves. For further information see Annex 4;
  • if all efforts fail, be prepared to abandon the attempt and try at another time.

For further information on communication and assessing capacity see: Communication and Assessing Capacity: a guide for social work and health care staff. Carers and others involved with supporting the person with incapacity may also find this helpful. This is a web based publication only, available at:

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