The Role and Responsibilities of a Deputy
Where someone lacks the capacity to manage their own affairs then an application to the Court of Protection will need to be made for a Deputy to be appointed. The role of a Deputy is to manage their affairs for them. That Deputy can either be lay (for example a family member) or professional (for example a Solicitor).
Even though someone has been assessed by a medical expert as lacking the capacity to manage their own affairs the Deputy will still work closely with them and provide all practicable assistance and support to help them make their own decisions. In the event that is not possible the Deputy will need to make whatever decisions are necessary and are in the best interests of that person. Just because someone has been assessed as lacking capacity does not mean they should be treated as being unable to make any decisions.
Who deputies work with
All Deputies (both lay and professional) will need to work very closely not only with the person lacking capacity but also with a wide range of others who are closely involved in supporting them. This will include both the Court of Protection and the Office of the Public Guardian but may also include:
- The client’s family,
- Case managers,
- Support workers/buddies/carers,
- Financial advisors,
- The local authority and
- Medical professionals.
Decisions covered by a deputy
The Court of Protection will issue an Order authorising the Deputy to make decisions on the individual’s behalf. That Order will grant them responsibility for making a wide variety of decisions which could include:
- Maintaining a bank account,
- Taking out a security bond,
- Making a statutory will,
- Investing money and budgeting to ensure that the funds last and, where appropriate or possible, grow,
- Paying bills,
- Claiming benefits and preserving entitlement to them,
- Filing tax returns,
- Employing a care team and dealing with any employment issues which may arise from that employment,
- Arranging holidays,
- Buying and adapting property,
- Support and advice to the client and their family to ensure that every reasonable step is taken to act in the clients best interests and implement their wishes,
- Appointing and liaising with other experts/professionals, and
- Accounting to the court on an annual basis.
Ending a deputyship
The Order appointing the Deputy will end when either the individual has regained capacity or has died. The Deputy may also apply to resign or retire from the role and can therefore be replaced.
Professional Deputy Services
Our specialist team can provide a complete service for those who lack the capacity to manage their own affairs. Our team fully understands the responsibility that such a role requires and are dedicated in ensuring that all practicable steps are taken to ensure they always act in the clients best interests when safeguarding their financial affairs.
The advantages of a professional Deputy include:
- Support of the family who can often be exhausted from years of care or following lengthy litigation where a personal injury claim has been taken,
- The ability to keep the client at arm’s length when unreasonable demands or requests for expenditure have been made,
- The expertise to liaise with the Court of Protection and Public Guardianship Office on matters of law and procedure which can sometimes be confusing and complex,
- Often there is no other person capable (or willing) of taking on this role, and
- In personal injury or clinical negligence cases where there is likely to be a large award of damages the Court will invariably prefer a professional Deputy to be appointed.
Where a Deputy is required following an injury sustained in an accident or arising from a clinical negligence matter and where a compensation claim is being pursued then it is highly likely that the costs of a professional Deputy can be included in the claim against the Defendant.
We will endeavour to work closely with all those involved in the client’s care to include not just care professionals but also, very importantly, the family. To this end we will work hard to foster long term relationships with the network of family, carers and professionals. It is our firm belief these relationships will assist us in acting in our client’s best interests and understanding their needs.
As a professional deputy we will comply with all of the legal duties placed on a Deputy. Our experienced team is committed to providing sympathetic, approachable and professional support.
Lay Deputy Support
When a person has received a smaller award of compensation, or if their financial position does not justify the additional costs involved in appointing a professional Deputy, then the best course of action may well be for a family member to be appointed as a Deputy.
If you are approached to be a lay Deputy then you should consider this request very carefully. This can sometimes be a daunting and onerous task and occasionally the Deputy can be met with unreasonable demands for expenditure. This is not always easy to deal with, especially when the request is being made by a loved one. If the need for a Deputy arises as a result of a personal injury then the family can often be exhausted following years of care and the demands of the litigation process.
Duties of a Lay Deputy
A lay Deputy will still be accountable to the Court and will still need to provide all of the services of a professional Deputy. They will also need to act in the best interests of the client. Even though you are not a professional a lay Deputy will be accountable if they act outside of their responsibilities. In some cases this could result in the Court of Protection taking action against the Deputy.
To keep costs down a lay Deputy may choose to deal with most of the administration and annual reporting themselves but can employ the services of a solicitor, financial advisor and accountant as and when needed.
The lay Deputy cannot delegate decision making to others (even solicitors). It is the lay Deputy’s duty to comply with the Court order appointing them. They are however entitled to seek advice and assistance from others to help them in their role.
Our team is able to offer whatever support and assistance a lay Deputy may require to help them in their role. That assistance may simply be ad hoc advice on specific matters; it may be assistance with filing annual reports, making statutory Wills or making applications to the Court. It may also be making an application for a professional Deputy to be appointed in place of the lay Deputy.
Mental Capacity Law Experts
Our dedicated team of Court of Protection lawyers can assist with deputyships, lasting power of attorney and issues relating to best interests and deprivation of liberty. Call us today to find out more.0800 044 8488