If you are not sure whether you can make certain decisions by yourself or think you may soon be unable to do so, you can make a co-decision-making agreement. This agreement allows you choose someone you know and trust as a co-decision-maker to make certain decisions jointly with you.
These decisions could be about your personal care, property, or money matters. For example your chosen person may jointly make decisions with you about your home or assist you in making decisions about employment, training, or social activities.
You can have more than one co-decision-making agreement. However, you can only have one co-decision-maker for each agreement.
Co-decision-making agreements are one of the agreements that can be made under the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act.
What can a co-decision-maker do?
Your co-decision-maker can make the decisions set out in the co-decision-making agreement together with you.
Your co-decision-maker will help you to get relevant information and will explain it to you. Together, you look at the information and talk about the different options and outcomes. You can then jointly come to a decision that respects your wishes.
After you register your co-decision-making agreement, your co-decision-maker can:
- Support you in coming to a decision together. For example, the co-decision-maker will try to explain complex information to you in clear and simple terms
- Help you to access relevant information and records, for example, contacting your bank or doctor
- Make certain decisions together with you, for example, decisions on your finances
- Make reasonable efforts to ensure any decision is implemented
Your co-decision-maker can only support you with decisions listed in your agreement
They cannot make a decision on your behalf without you – you must always be involved.
What can your co-decision maker not do?
Your co-decision maker cannot:
- Make a decision without you – you must always be involved
- Stop you seeing a particular person
- Consent for you to restrict your liberty or administer your medication
- Receive goods or services you are purchasing
- Benefit from or become liable to a contract you are entering into
You can read more in the DSS Guide to a Co-Decision Making Agreement (pdf).
You can read the Code of Practice for the guidance of co-decision-makers.
Who can be a co-decision-maker?
Your co-decision-maker must be an adult (18 years and over) who you must know and trust for a reasonable period of time.
The person cannot be a co-decision-maker if they:
- Have been convicted of an offence against you or your child
- Are financially insolvent or have been convicted of an offence involving fraud or dishonesty (unless the agreement is about personal welfare decisions)
- Are the owner or a registered provider of a designated care or mental health facility where you live or the employee of such a person (unless they are your close relative)
- Were removed from the role of co-decision-maker for you
A co-decision-making agreement may also end if:
- The assistant is your spouse, civil partner and/or cohabitant and your relationship ends
- They become ineligible to be a co-decision-maker for one of the reasons above.
The role of the Decision Support Service
A co-decision-making agreement does not come into effect until it is registered with the Decision Support Service.
Every year your co-decision-maker will have to send a written report to the Decision Support Service. You must approve these reports, and they must include details of:
- Big decisions made together as part of the agreement
- The financial matters related to the agreement, including any costs or expenses claimed by the co-decision-maker
The Decision Support Service can also send someone to talk to you, or your co-decision-maker and ask them for a report. For example, the Decision Support Service may send a general visitor or special visitor to talk to your co-decision-maker if they have received a complaint or to make sure the agreement is working the way that it should.
Monitoring a co-decision-making agreement
The Decision Support Service will at regular intervals:
- Check every registered co-decision-making agreement to make sure it is working
- Check that you continue to understand the agreement and that it is still in line with your wishes
- Check the activities of your co-decision-maker
How to check if someone has a co-decision-making agreement
The Decision Support Service keeps a register of co-decision-making agreements. The agreement will say who the co-decision-maker is. Specific people and organisations can apply to search the register if they have a good reason to do so. This could include banks, lawyers or doctors. It might also include family members and carers.
The Decision Support Service can provide a certified copy of your co-decision-making agreement, which confirms that the agreement exists. The DSS also providetemplate forms for making a co-decision making agreement.
How to make a co-decision-making agreement
You can make a co-decision making agreement online through myDSS. You need to set up an account to do this. If you prefer, you can contact the Decision Support Service and ask them to send a paper form for co-decision making.
You can read a step by step guide to making a co-decision-making agreement.
Your co-decision-making agreement must include details of the decisions that you and your co-decision-maker will make together.
Your agreement must:
- Be in writing
- Be signed by you (or on your behalf in certain circumstances)
- Be signed by your co-decision-maker
- Witnessed by 2 other people
Your co-decision-maker must have 2 character witnesses complete part of the form.
Then you must ask your doctor, or another healthcare professional to assess your capacity. They will check if you are able to make the co-decision-making agreement and have the capacity to make the decisions included in your agreement, with the support of your co-decision-maker. They will then complete the Statement of Capacity Form.
Who must I tell about the co-decision-making agreement?
After you make your co-decision-making agreement, you must tell:
- Your spouse, civil partner or your partner
- Any children who are over 18
- Any decision supporters that were appointed under a different support arrangement (for example, a decision-making assistance agreement)
The above people are known as notice parties.
After you have completed these steps, you can upload the documents and submit your application.
Objecting to a co-decision making agreement
Anybody from the above list of people can object to the agreement within 5 weeks of receiving the notice of the proposed registration. You can check how much it costs to make an objection to a co-decision-making agreement on the DSS website.
The Decision Support Service will review the objection after they receive it and consult with you and your proposed co-decision-maker. It will then decide if the agreement should be registered or not. The decision of the Decision Support Service can be appealed to the Circuit Court.
Registration and fees
You must pay a fee of €90 for each co-decision making agreement. You can apply for a fee waiver. Read more about fees on the Decision Support Service Website.
Changing or ending a co-decision-making agreement
You or your co-decision-maker can end all or part of the co-decision-making agreement whenever you like. You can do this before or after it is registered with the Decision Support Service.
To end a co-decision making agreement, you must:
- Do this in writing
- Sign it in the presence of 2 witnesses
- Tell relevant people including your spouse or partner that the agreement has ended
If the agreement is ended after it is registered, you must also notify the Decision Support Service with:
- The reasons for the ending of the agreement
- A statement by a doctor or another healthcare professional that you have capacity to end the agreement
- Details of the notice given to certain people of the agreement ending, including family members.
The Decision Support Service will remove all or part of the agreement from the register.
Changing a co-decision-making agreement
You can change a co-decision-making agreement if it has been registered with the Decision Support Service for more than 6 months, unless the Decision Support Service agrees to a shorter period. You can generally only make changes once in any 12-month period.
Both you and your co-decision maker must agree to changing the agreement.
You can make minor changes, by letting the Decision Support Service know of the changes. If you are planning to make a major changes to the agreement, this will go through most of the same steps as registering a new one.
How much does a co-decision-making assistant agreement cost?
There will be a fee of €90 to register the co-decision-making assistance agreement, or to make changes to it. You can apply for a reduced fee or fee waiver on the MyDSS portal.
You can get further information from the Decision Support Service.