When someone no longer has capacity to make decisions regarding their finances and/or welfare, an application can be made to the Court of Protection (COP) so that the Court can appoint someone to act on their behalf. This person is referred to as the deputy and the person who lacks the mental capacity is generally referred to as “P”. More than one deputy can be appointed and the Court prefer to appoint a family member where possible. However, there are other options available for those who may not be lucky enough to have family who are able to take up this role. A Professional Deputy can be appointed to act in these situations either through the Court or by an independent Solicitor.
There are two types of deputyship order that can be applied for; one is in respect of property and financial affairs and the other is in respect of health and welfare. The health and welfare deputyship is much harder to obtain as the Court is reluctant to appoint a health and welfare deputy. Permission would also be required by the Court to make this type of application.
In order to get the application started, a capacity assessment must to be carried out and this will be submitted to the Court in due course along with the other papers. This assessment is most often carried out by a doctor or social worker and the fee for this assessment will vary depending upon who carried out the assessment.
When completing the initial application form, a list of the donor’s assets and liabilities will need to be included within the application.
Once the application is submitted to the Courts, it can take between 6-10 months to achieve.
Towards the end of the process, the deputy will need to set up a security bond. This is similar to an insurance policy and covers financial losses to P should the deputy misappropriate funds. The fee for this depends on the value of P’s assets.
At the end of the procedure, the Court will issue the deputy a Court Order authorising what they can and cannot do.
Upon the anniversary of the Deputy’s appointment, an annual report must be prepared and sent to the Office of the Public Guardian detailing P’s financial affairs during the past year.
The Court of Protection process can be confusing due to the numerous forms required so you should speak to a solicitor who can provide you with the appropriate information and guidance.
Article written and contributed by Carol Etherington of Paul Robinson Solicitors
DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances. It is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered above, please speak to Paul Robinson Solicitors directly