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The Court of Protection and Being a Deputy – What does it mean?

27 December 2016

fixed fee divorce

In an ideal world we all hope to be able to continue to make decisions about our finances and health and welfare for as long as we live but sadly this is not always the case. If someone is unable to make decisions as they lack capacity and there is no Power of Attorney in place then we have to look to the Court of Protection to have someone appointed as a Deputy to act for them. This could be to manage that person’s financial and/or welfare decisions. The Court of Protection has the authority to do so on behalf of a vulnerable person under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

The Court of Protection has the power amongst other things to:

  • appoint deputies;
  • decide whether a person has capacity to make a particular decision for themselves;
  •  make declarations, decisions or orders on financial or welfare matters;

If a person is unable to manage their own finances, a bank will usually not allow access in order to prevent any third party from fraudulently operating an account; indeed, if you are not the account holder they will not provide you with any information at all. Once a Deputy has been appointed however, they will be able to take control of the accounts to act in the best interests of the vulnerable person. Whether this be to make sure bills are paid and that the vulnerable person has everything they need or whether it’s to ensure they have somewhere to live if a house needs selling and they need to downsize or move into residential care.

The Deputy once appointed must keep accurate records, submit an annual account to the Office of the Public Guardian, and keep insurance in place to protect the vulnerable person’s assets.

Whilst it is possible for a Deputy to be appointed to make personal welfare decisions on a vulnerable person’s behalf, such as what medical treatment they should receive, this is only done in extremely limited circumstances for example where there is disagreement amongst family members or carers.

Fees for a Court of Protection Deputyship application are likely to run into a few thousand pounds depending on certain factors. The process also takes approximately six months depending on how busy the Court of Protection is at the time. It is therefore important to consult a solicitor at an early stage if you suspect that a relative is becoming unable to manage their affairs to avoid the lengthy and costly procedure if possible, by putting Lasting Powers of Attorney in place whilst your loved ones have the capacity to do so.

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