What is a Deputy?
A Court of Protection ‘Deputy’ is a person appointed by the Court of Protection to look after the affairs of someone who lacks mental capacity and is unable to make decisions for themselves.
People may lack mental capacity because they have suffered a serious brain injury or illness, they have dementia, or they have severe learning disabilities.
A Court of Protection Deputy is usually a close relative, friend or specialist Court of Protection Solicitor. They must be over the age of 18, mentally competent, and not bankrupt.
What Are My Responsibilities?
There are two types of Deputyship orders – one for financial affairs and the other for health and welfare.
As a Deputy, the Court of Protection will authorise you to make important decisions on another person’s behalf. A Deputy can only ever make decisions the Court of Protection has authorised them to make.
For financial Deputies, such decisions may involve property arrangements and financial affairs such as paying bills, organising a pension, or managing a sum of compensation someone has received for example after having suffered a serious injury. In such cases, you may become involved in decisions around procuring practical rehabilitation aids and support services for the injured person, or making investment decisions on their behalf.
Clearly, the role of a Court of Protection-appointed Deputy carries a huge degree of responsibility as well as sensitivity to the needs of the person you are acting for.
For welfare Deputies, you will often be responsible for matters concerning someone’s personal welfare, such as decisions around medical treatment or where they should reside. Welfare deputyships are rare and often very specific in what they will cover.
Whichever order you obtain, you must always act in the person’s best interests and follow the rules of the Mental Capacity Act.
You must always seek advice from relatives or professionals such as doctors when making decisions on someone’s behalf. You must also always do everything you can, as far as is possible, to try and help whoever you are acting for to take the decision themselves and failing that, to understand the decisions you are making for them and why it is in their best interests.
It is important that you consider someone’s level of mental capacity each time you make a decision for them as you cannot simply assume their level of understanding will remain the same for every matter you deal with.
You must never make or alter the will of the person you are acting for without a specific order of the Court, as this is outside of a deputy’s authority. You must not take financial advantage, abuse or profit from a decision you have made on their behalf, or hold any of their money or property in your own name.
For more information on the responsibilities of a Deputy or to speak with a Court of Protection Solicitor, please call Slater and Gordon on freephone 0808 175 8000 or contact us online and we’ll be happy to help.