What is the Court of Protection?
What is the Court of Protection? The Court is intended to provide a way of making decisions for people who are not considered mentally fit enough to make those decisions themselves. If you are mentally fit, and don’t have a serious accident or illness in earlier life, you probably won’t find the Court of Protection running your life until you are fairly old, and maybe not even then. Especially if you have taken precautions to avoid the potential problem. If you have problems which need solving, we’re happy to have a very quick free chat by appointment on 01323 406 299.
Many people consider they don’t have a problem as their wife/ husband / children / common law partner will be able to take care of everything. Ignorance may be bliss until things go wrong, as they will for probably over half of our readers. But the hard reality of discovering what the Court of Protection does will be a massive, expensive and slow shock.
The following people have NO RIGHT WHATEVER to manage your life if you can’t:
- Parent of a child over 18 (even if already mentally challenged)
- Common law partner
- Civil Partner
- Everyone else not mentioned above.
They can apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy so they can manage your affairs, and a husband or wife can regain control (with luck) inside 6 months, as potentially could a child or parent. The Court may not be aware that the person you have appointed does not have your best interest at heart, and supervision of Deputies is relatively limited unless there is a complaint.
However, it is extremely unlikely that a common law partner will be appointed as your Deputy.
In the meantime, anything belonging to you will be frozen, as will joint accounts unless a special emergency court of Protection Order is obtained at considerable expense.
Unless there is a clear consensus among the family as to who should be appointed as the deputy, there is a fair chance that the Local Authority or a solicitor will be appointed. Both of them will charge their normal hourly rate for such work, which could be dozens or even a hundred or more hours per year.
The Court of Protection can make decisions on things like:
- Your Last Will
- Deciding who should manage your day to day finances. It is common for Local Authorities and solicitors to end up in charge of peoples lives where precautions have not been taken. Husbands and wives and children do have some chance of being appointed as your Court of Protection Deputies, but it is by no means certain.
- Resolving arguments amongst people charged with the persons care
- Deciding who should make welfare decisions – for example, where you live, who you see, medical treatment etc.
- Whether you are mentally fit enough to make such decisions.
- Whether you should have an abortion or other medical treatment.
- Whether you should be allowed to continue living at home.
- Should treatment be forced on you for terminal or other conditions?
- Can life support be turned off?
- Is it reasonable to make a gift in specific circumstances.
Generally speaking the Court of Protection only gets involved where people have not bothered to make Lasting Powers of Attorney (in some cases an old Enduring Power of Attorney and just the Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney rather than both Finance and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney).
What is the Court’s jurisdiction? Generally speaking, if you put sensible precautions in place in time, you can avoid the hassle, expense and delays of the Court of Protection by appointing the right people to manage your affairs if you cannot.
What does The Court of Protection do?
It rules whether people are able to make decisions for themselves; rules on behalf of people who cannot adequately do so; decides on serious medical cases where the patient is not able to give or deny consent; and appoints deputies to act on behalf of those people in matters of money.
Effectively, it has the power of life or death. It can order or prevent abortions, impose treatment for potentially terminal conditions and turn off life-support systems.
Important stuff, we think you will agree. Perhaps you and your family should do something to avoid the need to find out in great detail what is The Court of Protection!