Home Is Where the Heart Is

Back in February in the office there was a sense of anticipation in the air on Valentine’s Day and it was nothing to do with what the postman might bring. A fair few of us were hoping our phones might ring with news that we had won a prize raffle for a house worth over half a million. Sadly, our hopes were dashed when news broke that the prize had been won by a 23 year old from Wolverhampton. Congratulations to this lucky lady and we wish you the best for your future there.

Isn’t it lovely to get momentarily carried away with thoughts of our dream property, particularly in the current climate? For some it is a place in the country, others a spot by the sea.

But for many of our clients in Court of Protection their dream home is simply something that caters for their needs and allows them to live comfortably, securely and with independence.

Thinking about our own homes for a moment, it is easy to see how accessing them could become difficult or even a danger if we suddenly suffered a life-changing accident. At a time when our world has already been turned upside down, our home no longer representing a sanctuary is a sizable additional challenge to overcome.

Furthermore, as our property is often our most valuable asset it also represents a large area of vulnerability for our clients. Having someone independent in charge of making decisions relating to property can avoid questions about whether transactions are really being carried out in the best interests of the incapacitated person.

How Can We Help?

Our team of professional deputies recognises these difficulties and can make decisions on behalf of clients about: buying and selling property, finding suitable rental accommodation, authorising purpose-built housing to be made and/or arranging suitable adaptations for existing homes.

As someone who recently purchased a ‘doer-upper’ myself, I am aware of the significant costs involved in achieving a comfortable home. A deputy will be aware that any specific adaptations to a property may not be matched by an equivalent increase in the value of the property and therefore a good deal of consideration will be given to whether it is appropriate for the client to remain in their own home.

A deputy must always bear in mind that any improvements to a client’s property are to be done in their best interests and they will need to obtain a number of estimates from suppliers to ensure this is achieved. There may also be a need to defer to other professionals such as an architect or surveyor if the adaptations are sizeable.

As well as the bigger decisions, a deputy is responsible for many aspects of running and maintaining a home for our clients. This includes ensuring that the various safety checks are completed, that service contracts are in place to cover heating, water and electrical supplies and arranging the necessary buildings and contents insurance cover. They also manage the utility bills and are responsible for ensuring that the correct level of council tax is paid.

A deputy has a duty to ensure that a property is kept secure and in a reasonable state of repair. One of the professional deputy standards recommends that a deputy should regularly “review the condition of the property and ensure it is adequately maintained.” Therefore, our Court of Protection team works with our facilities manager and ensures that there is access to reliable tradesmen and contractors for repairs and gardening.

We know that a home represents a great deal more than simply the bricks and mortar it is made from. We work closely with our clients and their families when it comes to matters of the home and understand both the practical and emotional aspects. If you would like to contact us regarding any matter relating to mental capacity, please ask to speak to a member of the Court of Protection team.