If a friend or relative has lost mental capacity and there is no power of attorney in place, it may be necessary to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputy to be appointed to manage their affairs.
Annaliese Barber Private Client Solicitor with Richard Reed Solicitors explains what a Deputy is and their role.
What is a Deputy?
A Deputy is a person appointed by the Court of Protection to look after the affairs of someone who can no longer make their own decisions. This might be because they have a condition such as dementia or are suffering from a brain injury or mental illness that affects, for example, their ability to deal with their finances.
Types of Deputy
There are two types of Deputy:
- one for managing property and financial affairs; and
- one for dealing with personal welfare issues, such as medical treatment or deciding where a person should live.
An application can be made to appoint one or both types of Deputy.
Who can act as a Deputy?
Usually, the Court of Protection would look to a family member or close friend being appointed to act as a person’s Deputy. But if a person does not have close family or friends or anyone suitable who can take on the role, then a professional person, such as a solicitor, can be appointed.
The powers and duties of a Deputy
With a Deputyship order in place, the Deputy has wide powers to manage a person’s day-to-day and longer term financial affairs (if appointed as a Property & Financial Affairs Deputy) and personal affairs (if appointed as a Health & Welfare Deputy). The Deputy can make the decisions that the person can no longer able to make for themselves.
A Property and Financial Affairs Deputyship typically could include managing a person’s bank accounts, paying bills, settling care home or carer’s fees, applying for state benefits and dealing with pensions and investments.
A Health & Welfare Deputyship could involve making decisions about how a person should be cared for and whether they should receive medical treatment.
Very often a Deputy will need help from professional advisors to do their job properly. The Deputy may also need special approval from the Court of Protection to do certain things, such as to sell a person’s house or to provide an income for a person’s children if the original order appointing the Deputy did not cover these actions.
Everything a Deputy does must be done in the best interests of the person they have been appointed to act for.
Are deputies supervised?
The Court of Protection supervises Deputies and requires them to keep comprehensive financial records of all transactions and to account for their actions by submitting a Deputy Report each year.
A Deputy may be visited by a Court of Protection Visitor who is a representative of the Court. The Court of Protection Visitor will check the Deputy’s paperwork and will discuss how things are going. The Court of Protection Visitor also can make suggestions about how things can be done differently and can point out things the Deputy might not have thought about. The Court of Protection Visitor will report back to the Court of Protection and will highlight if there are any areas of concern.
Deputies are required by as a condition of their appointment to take out a security bond which is renewed each year. It is a type of insurance to protect the assets of the person they are looking after in the unlikely event monies are mismanaged or misappropriated.
Is there anything I can do to avoid the need for a deputy?
The need for a Deputy can easily be avoided if, before a person loses mental capacity, they create a Lasting Power of Attorney appointing a relative, friend or professional advisor to act on their behalf in making the sorts of decisions a Deputy might otherwise have to make for them.
Again, there are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney, being in respect of Property & Financial Affairs and Health & Welfare.
Doing this is relatively straightforward, costs significantly less and is much less time consuming than having to apply to appoint a Deputy. Creating a Lasting Power of Attorney is something we can help you with at Richard Reed.
For a confidential discussion about Court-appointed Deputies or Lasting Powers of Attorney, please contact Annaliese on 0191 567 0465 or email: [email protected]