When a Lasting Power of Attorney has not been created, families often have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed to act as a Deputy for a family member when they lack the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves (such as managing their finances or decisions about their personal welfare).
A sudden and drastic deterioration in a loved-one’s health can mean that care is needed and the children of the family must access the bank accounts, or even sell the family home, to pay for it. Without having a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, the children have no authority to deal with any of the finances. Their only option is to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as a Deputy. If you need to make a Deputyship application, Chilcotts Law can help you through the process of making the application and applying to the Court. We can also provide advice and representation if your application has been contested by another party.
The Deputyship application process with the Court of Protection typically takes a number of months to complete. Usually the Deputy would be a relative, but a close friend or an independent person such as a bank manager, accountant or a solicitor could also be appointed. In some cases, where there is nobody suitable to act as deputy, the Court may appoint an organisation, for example a Local Authority or the Office of the Public Guardian as deputy. We are able to offer a professional Deputy service for those who are unable to take on the responsibility of managing someone else’s affairs.
Responsibilities of Court Appointed Deputies
Deputies’ responsibilities depend on the needs of the person on whose behalf they are appointed to act, but as with a Lasting Powers of Attorney, most frequently the powers granted to the Deputy relate to:
- The person’s property and financial affairs
- The person’s personal welfare, which could include decisions about medical treatment or social care
As with a Lasting Powers of Attorney, different people can be appointed to take responsibility for each area.
Responsibilities under the Mental Capacity Act
Court appointed Deputies are required to adhere to the five principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Essentially this means that they have to take steps to help the person lacking capacity to make their own decisions, where it is practicable. It also means that where a Deputy makes a decision on behalf of someone lacking capacity, they must do so in that person’s best interests.
Monitoring of Court Appointed Deputies
The Office of the Public Guardian monitors the performance of Deputies. Each Deputy has to complete an annual report using the Deputy Declaration Form.
The Deputy Declaration Form asks for details of decisions that have been made during the past year, and the steps that have been taken to involve the person lacking capacity in the decision making process. Property and Affairs Deputies also have to provide detailed information about financial transactions.
If you are appointed as a Deputy, you should therefore keep detailed records, including your own notes and copies of any documents relating to decisions you have made, including bank statements, receipts and invoices, and any letters or reports.