Deputies: Protecting the vulnerable
Deputies. It might bring to mind images of the Wild West, Sheriffs on horseback and cowboy boots, but in this instance Deputyship is something else entirely.
Let’s say for example that ‘Antonia’ has dementia. Sadly, her condition means she can no longer function well enough to pay her bills or manage her own money. Her dementia is also severe enough that she lacks the ability to decide on someone to look after her finances for her. In cases like this, an application can be made to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy.
So, what is a Deputy?
A Deputy is someone appointed by the Court of Protection to look after the welfare, property and/or financial affairs of another person.
Deputyship is often needed when a person loses the ability to make decisions in their own best interests, usually as a result of severe illness, injury or disability
A Deputy can only act under a court order from the Court of Protection and is only needed if the person lacking capacity hasn’t already appointed a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
What does a Deputy do?
A deputy will look after the person’s interests by collecting their income and benefits, or selling their assets in order to pay for their ongoing care. They may also need to make decisions about medical treatment.
A deputy is only allowed to make the decisions that they are authorised by the Court to make. They must:
• Manage assets such as investments, bank accounts, benefits and pensions
• Keep records of decisions and actions to show they were in the best interests of the person who lacks capacity
• Put together an annual report showing the income of the person who lacks capacity, along with any expenses.
Who can be a Deputy?
A deputy must be aged over 18 years and must declare any criminal convictions or bankruptcy to the Court.
In most cases a spouse, partner or other family member will apply to be the Deputy.
Where there is no family member willing or able, some independent agencies, such as The Money Carer Foundation, offer a professional, low cost and innovative deputyship service. This can be especially useful where the person who lacks capacity needs financial intervention or protection from financial abuse.