What is a court-appointed deputy?
A deputy is someone who is appointed by the Court of Protection to make decisions on behalf of someone who is unable to do so on his or her own.
Once appointed, a deputy is responsible for making decisions on behalf of the person who has lost capacity until either that person dies or is able to make decisions on his or her own again.
There are two distinct types of deputies: those who look after property and financial affairs and those who look after a person’s health and welfare.
Who can be a deputy?
The deputy is often a professional such as a solicitor or a representative of a local authority.
A deputy can also be a relative or close friend of the person who needs help making decisions. He or she must be aged over 18.
It is possible to appoint more than one person as a deputy.
If no one is willing or able to take on the role of deputy then The Court of Protection may appoint a ‘panel deputy’ – someone with specialist knowledge of mental capacity law – to look after the incapacitated person’s financial affairs.
How do you prove someone has lost capacity?
The Court of Protection refers to the Mental Capacity Act to establish if someone can make their own decisions or not.
What if someone has capacity but is at risk of losing it?
The court will not appoint someone as deputy if a person is able to make his or her own decisions. If, for example, someone has the early signs of dementia, they should make a lasting power of attorney instead.
What are the responsibilities of a deputy?
The Court of Protection will advise the deputy about their responsibilities and what decisions they can and cannot make on behalf of a person lacking capacity.
Deputies must always act in the best interests of the person who needs help making decisions, in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the code of practice.
It is important to note that deputies cannot make end of life decisions such as turning off a life-support machine; make or amend a will for the person; make large gifts out of the person’s money; or hold any money or property in their own name on the person’s behalf.
A deputy can however use the Court Funds Office to help the incapacitated person with their finances.
How to apply to become a deputy
Seek the advice of a solicitor who will check to see if the person already has a deputy or attorney acting on their behalf.
If they don’t, the solicitor will help you make an application to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy.
If the court approves the application, they will issue a court order appointing the deputy. The court order will explain the scope of the deputy’s decision making powers.
What reports does a deputy have to make?
A deputy needs to report to the Office of the Public Guardian (usually once a year) advising of any decisions they have made on the other person’s behalf such as making a financial investment or changing their care arrangements.
Deputies should keep copies of any documents relating to decision making such as receipts, bank statements, and reports from health agencies or social services.
Who supervises a deputy?
The Office of the Public Guardian supervises all deputies. There are different degrees of supervision depending on the circumstances of the deputyship.
When do a deputy’s responsibilities end?
If a court order expires, the deputyship will end. If this happens and the person still requires help with making decisions, then the deputy must reapply to the Court of Protection.
The Court of Protection can terminate the deputy’s role if they do not act in the person’s requiring help best interests.
The Court of Protection will also end the deputy’s role if the person requiring help regains capacity.