What is a Deputy?
A Deputy is someone appointed by the Court of Protection (COP) to make decisions for a person who is unable to do so and does not already have an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) or Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place. A Deputy is obliged to follow the terms of the Court order and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. A Deputy can apply to have responsibility for making decisions about the person’s property and financial affairs and/or apply to have responsibility for making decisions about their health and welfare.
Who can be a Deputy?
Who should be appointed as a Deputy is ultimately a matter for the Court to decide. A Deputy is usually a close friend or relative of the person who needs help making decisions. A Deputy can also be a professional, such as an accountant or a solicitor. Deputies must be over 18. The COP can appoint a ‘panel deputy’ chosen by them to look after someone’s financial affairs if no other suitable person is available.
What are the responsibilities of a Deputy?
The Court of Protection will tell the Deputy about:
- their powers and responsibilities
- what decisions they can and cannot make – e.g. about money or healthcare
- only make decisions in the other person’s best interests
- only make the decisions the COP says they can make
- apply a high standard of care when making decisions
Decisions a Deputy cannot make:
Deputies cannot make a decision for someone if:
- they believe the person can make the decision without their help
- it goes against a decision made by an Attorney acting under an LPA
- restrain the person, unless it is to stop them coming to harm
- stop life-sustaining medical treatment, e.g. turn off a life-support machine
- make a Will for the person, or change their existing Will
- make large gifts out of the person’s money
- hold any money or property in their own name on the person’s behalf. However, a Deputy can use the Court Funds Office, or a bank or building society account to help someone with their finances
How to become a Deputy
If you want to apply to become a Deputy, check whether the person already has a Deputy or Attorney acting on their behalf. If they do not, you may decide to apply to the COP to become the Deputy.
The application procedure involves obtaining a medical report and providing the COP with details of the person’s assets and income and financial needs, their personal circumstances and family relationships. You also have to declare that you will abide by the terms of the Court order and the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
If the COP approves your application, you have to take out an insurance bond and the COP will then send you a Court order appointing you as a Deputy. The Court order will explain what decisions you are legally allowed to make.
What happens after you are appointed as Deputy?
The Court order may say that you need to make regular reports to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). This is to make sure that you are acting in the person’s best interests. You usually have to complete a report once a year, using the Deputy Declaration form.
Keep a record of any decisions you make, for example
- making a major investment
- changing the care a person is getting
- deciding where someone should live
Keep copies of any documents relating to any decisions you have made, for example,
- bank statements
- letters and reports from health agencies or social services.
Who supervises a Deputy?
The OPG supervises Deputies.
There are different levels of supervision depending on:
- the complexity and value of the estate of the person you are acting for
- your relationship with the person you are making decisions for
- the types of decisions you are allowed to make
If someone is unhappy with how a Deputy is acting they can report this to the OPG.
Supervision fees: You will have to pay a supervision fee to the OPG if you are appointed as a Deputy. The fee will depend on the level of supervision. You may be able to get help with fees or a discount if you are on certain benefits or a low income.
When does a Deputy’s responsibility end?
A Deputy’s role can end or be cancelled for a number of reasons:
- The Court order expires. If this happens, the Deputy can reapply to the COP. A new Deputy can also apply for the role
- The COP ends the Deputy’s role. This can happen if:
- the Deputy has not been acting in the person’s best interests, in which case the COP will appoint a new Deputy
- the person no longer needs the Deputy’s help
- The person who needs a Deputy dies. If this happens, the Deputy must tell the OPG as soon as possible. They may have to provide a final report about their decisions and financial transactions
- The Deputy dies. If this happens and the person still needs someone to act on their behalf, the COP will appoint a new Deputy. They can appoint a panel Deputy if no one else applies for the role