Mental health and the law on the Isle of Man

Those suffering from mental health issues may often struggle to source reliable help and advice when it comes to finding out their rights and putting in place a strategy for the future. We take a look at how individuals and their families can manage their affairs when mental capacity is lost.

An increase in mental health problems

Isle of Man mental health services have reported an increase in users over the past consecutive five years. In 2019 the figure stood at 800, up 129 from the previous year. The police have reported mental health problems as being one of the main three issues for the Island’s force. In 2018 the number of cases involving a mental health aspect was almost a quarter higher than for the previous year.

The government is in consultation with the public over new mental capacity laws, due to come into force in the Capacity Bill 2021, which aims to safeguard those who are unable to make their own decisions about their health, welfare and finances.

Mental health capacity

For those unable to manage their own affairs, their relatives may make an application to the court to have a Receiver appointed under the terms of the Mental Health Act 1998. Details of how to apply are available from the Isle of Man Courts of Justice.

The Receiver will be able to deal with the individual’s health and welfare needs as well as managing their finances on their behalf.

Appointing a representative

Applying to become a Receiver can be time-consuming and complex and involves ongoing commitment to providing reports on actions taken on behalf of the person whose affairs are being managed.

It is simpler if an individual can make an Enduring Power of Attorney while they still have the ability to act on their own behalf. This is a legal document appointing a trusted person of their choice to act on their behalf in the event that they lose the capacity to do so themselves.

The document can be executed well in advance of any loss of mental capacity and in fact may never be needed. But by putting it in place before mental capacity becomes an issue, both the individual concerned and their family have the peace of mind of knowing that the Attorney can step in if needed.

If the Attorney believes that the person has become mentally incapable to manage their own affairs, they must apply to the court to register the Enduring Power of Attorney document. This will need to be accompanied by a medical certificate stating that capacity has been lost. The donor and their relatives will be notified of the application.

Executing an Enduring Power of Attorney

It is advisable to have an Enduring Power of Attorney form prepared by an independent legal adviser who will ensure the document is properly drafted and who will be able to explain in detail the implications of signing it as well as the procedure to be followed once it has been executed.

At Quinn Legal we have experience of acting for those suffering from mental health difficulties and their families. We take great care to always act in the best interests of our clients and to ensure their rights are observed at all times.

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