What is a Deputy?

Many people will be familiar with the terms ‘Power of Attorney’, whether that be Lasting Powers of Attorney or Enduring Powers of Attorney. A person can give as much or as little authority as they wish to their attorney providing they have the capacity to do so, but what happens when a person lacks capacity to manage their finances and they haven’t appointed an attorney?

A person may become incapacitated suddenly and unexpectedly, for example acquiring a brain injury in an accident or they may have an illness, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia causing a slow deterioration of their mental capability. It doesn’t matter how someone becomes incapacitated but it does matter how their affairs are managed. Unfortunately it isn’t as straightforward as being someone’s next of kin. Being next of kin does not legally authorise someone to manage a person’s affairs however, this does not mean that hope is lost; the Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides that an incapacitated person’s property and affairs can be managed by a court appointed deputy.

What Is a Deputy?

A deputy is appointed by the Court of Protection to manage the property and affairs of someone who lacks capacity to act for themselves.

What Do Deputies Do?

As a deputy you will be responsible for making best interests decisions regarding an incapacitated person’s (“P”) finances and property. Deputies are expected to manage the day-to-day finances and liaise with the necessary third parties such as banks and utility companies to ensure P’s finances remain in order. The court order will detail what you are authorised to do, for example it is common that a deputy will be authorised to manage P’s bank accounts, savings and investments but not authorised to sell or buy property belonging to P without express permission from the Court of Protection.

How Do I Apply to Become a Deputy?

In order to become a deputy an application must be made to the Court of Protection. The application must evidence that P lacks capacity to manage their property and affairs and that the proposed deputy is a suitable person to manage P’s affairs.

What If Someone Needs a Deputy but There Is No One Suitable?

Usually deputies are relatives or close friends of P. However, if there is no one suitable, or P’s affairs are complex and therefore no one wishes to take on the responsibility of being a deputy there are alternative options. In these circumstances a professional, such as a solicitor can be appointed as a professional deputy. This is a service which is offered at Lanyon Bowdler and the team would be happy to discuss this with you should you wish to enquire for further information regarding this service.

Who Can Assist with an Application?

Between January 2020 and March 2020, 3,885 applications were made to the Court of Protection for the appointment of property and affairs deputies. Although the application papers are intended to be user friendly, we understand that they can often seem difficult and overwhelming. We have a dedicated, specialist Court of Protection department at Lanyon Bowdler, all of whom have a wealth of knowledge on hand to assist with any deputy enquiries you may have. Whether you require assistance making the application or guidance on your role and responsibilities as a deputy the team is on hand to assist.