Court of Protection Deputy or Deputyship.
What is a Court of Protection Deputy? A Deputy is a person appointed by the Court of Protection to look after the affairs of someone else who is unable to manage their own affairs. Ideally, Lasting Powers of Attorney would have been prepared well in advance, but this often does not happen. Should you wish for professional help at relatively modest fees, please contact us on 01323 406 299 to enquire about becoming a Court of Protection Deputy. One thing to avoid is delay, or things may be taken out of family hands by the relevant Local Authority Social Services Department on a solicitor. Once appointed, the family are unlikely to be able to regain control. Things may go well, they may not, but the person being looked after will pay (assuming they have the funds of course.)
There are two types of Deputyship:
- Financial Deputy who looks after the financial side of things.
- Health and Welfare Deputy looks after medical matters, welfare issues such as where you live, who you see etc. The Health and Welfare Deputyship is more difficult to obtain than the financial one,
The Deputy must make decisions in the best interests of that person. But only where that person is unable to do so within a time frame reasonable (in all the specific circumstances) on their own or with help.
Some decisions must be made at once, others can wait a few weeks without causing problems. Just maybe the person managed by the Court of Protection Deputy will recover sufficiently to make that decision within the time. Clearly, in some cases, recovery is unlikely so in effect the officially appointed deputy will just make all decisions as needed.
Who can become a Court of Protection Deputy?
Ideally, the Court of Protection Deputy is a close relative of the person who is now under the Court’s protection. Non relatives are sometimes appointed, but it is not usual, except where they are professionals such as an accountant, solicitor or Local Authority. And it is the professionals who will apply if the family are slow off the mark, or don’t wish to act.
To be appointed the applicant for Deputyship must be over 18 and mentally competent and not bankrupt. At the end the Court of Protection will decide who can be a Deputy and they can reject anyone they are not happy with.
How to become a Court of Protection Deputy.
You must apply to be appointed by the Court of Protection to become someone’s Deputy. You can be appointed for deputyship for either or both of:
1) Property and Financial Affairs.
2) Personal Welfare.
The court sends an Order – a legal document that details a decision they have made and the powers they have granted to you which will not necessarily be full powers, they may be restricted. It is this Order which confirms your appointment as Deputy.
Your responsibilities as a Court of Protection Deputy.
You are now, as a Court of Protection Deputy, responsible for running all or parts of someone’s life. That’s a big responsibility.
As a Deputy, you should:
· Always make decisions based entirely on the person’s best interests.
· Just make decisions the court says you can make – or you will be in trouble.
· Apply a high standard of care when making decisions about these important issues.
Making decisions as a Court of Protection Deputy.
If a decision you want to make is not included in the order you will have to apply to the court for a ruling. The Court of Protection may amend your authority so you can make the decision, or the Court may decide to make the decision itself.
When a Court of Protection Deputy should NOT make decisions.
Deputies cannot make decisions when the person could make the decision themselves with help within a reasonable time (bearing in mind the urgency of the situation). Or:
· To physically restrain the person, unless it is essential to prevent them coming to harm.
· The attorney of a Lasting Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney is already empowered to make that decision.
· A Deputy may not decide when to stop life-sustaining treatment such as turning off a life-support machine.
What you cannot do as a Court of Protection Deputy.
As a deputy you can’t make certain decisions.
· Making or amending a Last Will and testament.
· Making gifts which are significant in relation to the estate.
· You must always keep the person’s money entirely separate from your own.
The Office of the Public Guardian have a duty to investigate how you are handling the person’s affairs if any concerns are raised that you are not doing so entirely as you should.
Reporting to the Office of the Public Guardian.
You will generally be required to submit regular annual reports to the Office of the Public Guardian, detailing all decisions made and giving a financial picture. Clearly it will help if you keep notes clarifying the reasons for each decision, though the 12 page form won’t ask about every decision.
Should you ever be investigated, a full record will be crucial. Your records should show how you came to each decision, what you thought about and who you spoke to in order to help you make the most appropriate decision. You need to make notes of meetings or conversations which helped you reach the decision. You must keep documents relating to decisions, for example, bills, receipts, bank statements, letters and reports for Social Service etc etc.
Court of Protection Deputyship fees.
You must pay a supervision fee. The level of the fee will vary depending on how much supervision you are considered to require.
Should you be on a low income, you may not have to pay the full fee.
A Panel Deputy is a member of a group of approved Deputies with specialist knowledge of the Mental Capacity Act. They have the experience and skill to act in the role of Deputy. The Office of the Public Guardian decides who can be a Panel Deputy.
Normally a Panel Deputy will only be appointed if there is nobody else or the Court do not like the look of any of the applicants. Mudslinging by warring family members could lead to a Panel Deputy being appointed, with the donor bearing their professional fees.