In this edition of Wealth Preservation Matters we consider the role of a Deputy. A Deputy is appointed by the Court of Protection to make decisions for somebody if they do not have capacity to make decisions for themselves. A Deputy usually makes decisions about finances and property. The Court will appoint a Deputy if a Lasting Power of Attorney is not in place.
Being appointed as a Deputy can be a time consuming and stressful legal responsibility to take on. Unless specifically stated in the Court of Protection Order, the role is unpaid. When being appointed as a Deputy it is important to consider the following:
- You must consider someone’s level of capacity every time a decision is made. The level of understanding required for each decision will be different. It cannot be assumed someone’s capacity is always the same and for all types of decisions.
- When acting as a Deputy you will be restricted in the types of decision that you can make. Although you may have the authority to make a decision in relation to investing money, you may not have the authority to sell property. For any decisions that you do not have the authority to make, you will need to make a separate Court application each time. This can be both costly and time intensive.
- The Office of the Public Guardian require a Deputy to prepare and present a report each year. The report will need to include the finances of the person you have been appointed Deputy for and set out any decisions that you have made on their behalf. You must ensure that you keep accurate records and seek assistance if required.
- You cannot just stop being a Deputy. Again, this requires an application to the Court of Protection to be discharged from the role. When taking on the role it is therefore important that full consideration is given to what is being asked of you and that you don’t have your own commitments that will affect your ability to fulfil your role as Deputy.
These are just some of the points that need to be considered when acting as a Deputy. As illustrated, the role is time intensive and a working relationship with the Court is required. We therefore strongly advise that anyone over the age of 18 ought to make a Lasting Power of Attorney, as it is impossible to predict when it might be required and without one, someone (who you may not have chosen if given the choice yourself) will have to take on the challenging role of being a Deputy.