What our clients say…
After our first visit everything was well and the transfer of business from one company to another went very smoothleyCourt of Protection Client
Speak to Alex Guy
about the Court of Protection
Unfortunately, families often face the problem of someone who has not prepared a Power of Attorney falling ill or losing mental capacity. We often assist in cases where a Lasting Power of Attorney has not been prepared.
A sudden and drastic deterioration in the health of Mum or Dad 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 Power of Attorney, 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, we can help you.The Deputyship application process with the Court of Protection typically takes 6-8 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 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
In common with Lasting Powers of Attorney, different people can be appointed to take responsibility for each area.If you were appointed as a Deputy, the Court would provide you with several copies of the Deputyship Order so that they can be given to any organisations which require proof of your authority to act on behalf of the person who lacks capacity.
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.
The importance of Deputies getting the right advice:
Case Study: Cathy Watson
It is not uncommon for a Court appointed Deputy to need advice during the course of their Deputyship. Becoming a Deputy is a huge responsibility and things can go wrong where large sums of money are involved.
The Court of Protection appointed Cathy Watson as her daughter’s Receiver (at the time the equivalent of the Deputy role). Her daughter, Samantha, who suffers from Cerebral Palsy, needs 24 hour care and was awarded £2.6 million in 1999 following a clinical negligence claim. This compensation was intended to pay for Samantha’s life long care needs. However, in 2013, Doncaster Crown Court heard how Mrs Watson and her ex-husband, Robert Hills, squandered around £500,000 of the compensation on a lavish lifestyle.
The two had initially kept records of outgoings, but had become used to a high income. Over a period of eight years the spending spiralled out of control.
Both Mrs Watson and Mr Hills claimed they had received no guidance or briefing on how Samantha’s compensation should have been spent. However, this has not proven to be an effective defence. Both were warned by the Judge hearing the case that they would go to prison.
This is an extreme case, but it illustrates the importance of Deputies receiving, and following, professional advice on how to carry out their duties. In some cases, it may be more appropriate for an independent person, such as a solicitor, to be appointed.It is always a good idea to talk to a professional, whether you’ve already been appointed as a Deputy or Attorney, or are considering becoming one. We understand how overwhelming it can be to take on a responsibility like this, and we are always happy to discuss options and help people find the most appropriate solution.
If you would like to discuss a Deputyship application, contact Catrin Lloyd, Sharon Woodward or Samantha Spain, on 0800 138 0458, or complete our contact form and we will call you back.