My partner’s in a coma. What should I do?

This can create some legal complications if they are unconscious and unable to communicate their wishes for any length of time.

If you and your partner have a joint bank account for example, the Bank may freeze it until you can produce legal documents such as a Lasting Power of Attorney or Deputyship Order.

You will need the same authorisation to manage or discuss your partner’s benefits or tax affairs, as well as any property or investments held in his or her sole name.

Here are some things to do straightaway if you find yourself in this situation:

Did your partner create a Lasting Power of Attorney?

This would pre-authorise you to deal with his or her affairs (read about LPAs). It is worth checking through their papers or you can see if an LPA has been lodged with the Office of the Public Guardian or your partner’s Solicitor.

Please note, you can only create a Lasting Power of Attorney if you have the mental capacity to do so. If there is no LPA and your partner does not have the capacity to set one up, then you can do the following instead…

Apply for a Deputyship order

If there is no LPA you can apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship order instead.

This authorises you to access all of your partners’ assets (including those you jointly hold), and to use those funds for your partner’s benefit.

Applying for a Deputyship Order will take time (typically around 16 weeks). It is possible to make an emergency application, but only in extreme circumstances. Consider appointing a Solicitor to help you, as there is a fair amount of paperwork involved.

  • Preparing and Registering a Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Powers of Attorney
  • Preparing and Registering a Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney
  • Help for dependents of people without Lasting Powers of Attorney
  • General (Ordinary) Powers of Attorney
  • Advice re existing Enduring Powers of Attorney and Registration of existing Enduring Powers of Attorney
  • Obtaining mental capacity reports where appropriate
    Providing advice where it is not possible to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney due to lack of capacity
  • Advice re duties and powers of Attorneys
  • Advice re disputes relating to Lasting Powers of Attorney
  • Applications to the Court of Protection including Deputyship applications

“If it had not been for the EPA I would have had real problems even discussing my mother’s affairs with banks, investment companies, government departments and care providers, much less paying her bills from her account.

“Being able to supply copies of the EPA to the various parties meant they would speak to me and act on my instructions. Without it I would have had to pursue a long, complicated and expensive legal process – at a very difficult time personally.

“I would absolutely recommend planning ahead and making an LPA. It could make a huge difference to your loved ones.”


Make an