If you are caring for someone who has lost the capacity to make decisions for themselves, legal stress can be very difficult to deal with.
Fortunately, you can apply for a deputyship order, which allows you to make important decisions quickly and smoothly on behalf of the person you are caring for. First4lawyers can provide you with expert advice on becoming a deputy.
Although obtaining a deputyship is a common practice – 10,475 were appointed in 2012 alone in England and Wales – it can be a tricky legal area to navigate.
If you are concerned about decisions that a friend, family member or other person in your care is required to make, you can speak to First4lawyers to take the first steps toward making a deputyship application.
What is deputyship?
When someone lacks the capacity to make decisions for themselves, and there is no power of attorney, the Court of Protection can appoint a deputy to be legally responsible for that person.
Deputyship can be required when a person with mental disabilities reaches adulthood, or in the event that an adult suffers from dementia or mental impairment as a result of a stroke, brain tumour, or other disturbance.
The Court of Protection appoints two types of deputy:
- A deputy for property and financial affairs, responsible for issues such as paying bills, managing mortgages and savings, and pension planning.
- A personal welfare deputy, who manages the individual’s medical treatment and care arrangements.
The duties a deputy will carry out depend on the needs of the individual being represented, but the Court of Protection offers some guidance, which states they must act in the best interests of the individual and provide them with a high standard of care.
Your duties as a deputy prohibit you from restraining the person in your care, unless you need to do so for their own protection, and you must not prevent them access to vital medical treatment. As a deputy, you cannot decide who the person in your care can communicate with.
The decisions you make on their behalf must not be made for your own personal gain, and you cannot make or change the person’s will. The Court of Protection also prohibits you from making gifts, holding money, or holding property in your name on the other person’s behalf.
Your duties as a deputy include keeping detailed records of the finances and other arrangements that you manage on the individual’s behalf, and keeping your own money and property entirely separate from theirs.
A failure to comply with your duties as a deputy could lead to a fine or a prison sentence of up to five years if you are found guilty of mistreatment or neglect.
Who can take a deputyship role?
Anyone can apply to be a deputy. The court will take into account your relationship with the individual you wish to be a deputy for, but as long as you are over 18 then your application should be considered.
To become a property and financial affairs deputy, you will be required to demonstrate that you have the requisite skills for the role. Sometimes the court will appoint two or more deputies for the same person, to ensure the individual is properly represented.
What are the costs involved in deputyship?
An application fee of £400 must be paid to the courts when you apply to be a deputy. A further £500 fee must be paid if the court decides that your application requires a court hearing.
If you are successful in your application, you will need to pay a £100 assessment fee as a new deputy, and an annual supervision fee of up to £320 per year, depending on how much supervision the court decides that you will need.
Deputies can claim reimbursements for expenses incurred as part of their role, but records must kept of all expenses so that the court can determine the validity of any claims.
I need to apply for deputyship – what should I do?
There are several steps to take and many people will turn to a solicitor so the application runs smoothly, and to ensure all legal requirements are closely followed.
The process involves completing an application form, an assessment of capacity form, a deputy’s declaration, and an information form relating to the type of deputy you are applying to become.
It is important that you follow certain protocols throughout the application process, and keep the people named in your application informed at all times, but you can call upon the deputyship specialists at First4lawyers to help and guide you through the various steps to becoming a deputy.
You can contact us to get started, beginning with a discussion of your specific circumstances. From there, we can appoint a solicitor to your case whose skills and experience are tailored to your needs, and who will be able to give you the best possible chance of success in your application.