Wed, 20 Jun 2018
Amy Chater, solicitor in the Vulnerable Person and Court of Protection team at Coffin Mew LLP
Most of us take it for granted that we can make our own decisions about everything from what we eat, to what we spend our money on, but what happens if you are unable to make these decisions yourself?
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are a well-known port of call for those who cannot make their own decisions.
They can be fantastically useful tools, provided that attorneys can be trusted and follow the rules.
If the documents are properly drafted, you will have control over who your attorney will be, and you will be able to give them guidance or instructions to follow.
But, what happens if you don’t have a valid LPA document?
Usually, the next option is a deputyship (although your circumstances may differ). A Deputyship Order is granted by the Court of Protection and formally appoints a deputy when the person (P) is lacking mental capacity to manage their own affairs.
Deputyships are similar to LPAs. For instance, there are two kinds: one for property and finance, and one for health and welfare.
Much like an attorney, a deputy has authority to make (most) decisions about P’s finances.
However, unlike attorneys, deputies are more thoroughly scrutinised and must notify the Office of the Public Guardian of their decisions each year to ensure that P is being properly treated.
There are many horror stories about unscrupulous attorneys, which is often why deputyships are the preferred course.
When someone needs a deputy, an application must be made to the Court of Protection.
Almost anyone over the age of 18 can be appointed as a deputy, but the court will consider the situation, the needs of P and the position and connections of the deputy.
It is often preferable to appoint a professional deputy.
The application requires a variety of documentation to be successful and it can take a few months for it to be considered.
Until the order is granted, the proposed deputy has no authority – this can cause significant problems when debts and bills are mounting.
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) provides information – but not advice – to deputies and its website is an excellent source of information.
Once the order is made, the deputy is required to carry out several actions, such as paying a security bond, contacting their case manager and relevant establishments, and submitting annual accounts to the OPG.
They must keep records and receipts and ensure that P’s finances remain totally separate from their own.
If you would like more information about deputyships, or LPAs, please contact Amy Chater, solicitor in the Vulnerable Person and Court of Protection team at Coffin Mew LLP – firstname.lastname@example.org or (01235) 355902
For more information on Coffin Mew, please visit www.coffinmew.co.uk