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June 2013 - What is a Deputyship appointed by the Court of Protection?

By Ben Holden, solicitor specialsing in Wills & Probate.  Ben is also a qualified member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), and a  member of the national association 'Solicitors for the Elderly' (SFE). 

The Court of Protection makes decisions and can appoint Deputies to act on behalf of people who are unable to make decisions about their personal health, finance or welfare.  This will be the case if a Lasting Power of Attorney has not been put into place before a loved one has lost their mental capacity.

A common situation concerns anyone looking after a family member who has Alzheimer’s, Dementia or an aged related mental health issue.  This can be one of the most challenging tasks and sadly with an aging population it is a task that many of us will face at some point.

In many cases, there comes a time when a loved one can no longer look after themselves and requires residential or nursing care.  The average cost of care can be in the region of £1,000 per week.  State Assistance is available through your local authority, but they are only obliged to pay towards the cost of residential care if your total worth (including your home) is less than £23,250.

Getting access to a loved one’s pension(s), bank accounts and other monies is essential in the event that they have to pay for their care.  Hopefully they will have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place so that you can deal with their property and financial affairs straight away.  Once a person loses their mental capacity they cannot make a Lasting Power of Attorney – you will not be able to make the Power on their behalf! 

In these circumstances the only option will be to apply to the Court of Protection to become their Deputy.  The Court of Protection has been set up with the sole purpose of dealing with applications for those who have lost mental capacity.  The majority of applications to the Court relate to a person’s property and financial affairs which can involve running their bank account, selling their home, collecting their pension and ensuring the bills are paid.  The Court can also grant orders in respect of that person’s health and personal welfare, Statutory Wills and Enduring or Lasting Powers of Attorney.

Once appointed as a Deputy you will be able to make decisions in respect of your loved one’s property and financial affairs which will enable you to make arrangements to pay the care home fees.  Applying to the Court can be a difficult and lengthy process as it is laden with many rules and procedures.  Please remember that applying to the Court should always be seen as a last option and not a substitute for making a Lasting Power of Attorney.

At Phillips Solicitors we specialise in applications to the Court and with our expertise and experience we can help you through this tricky process. 

If you have any queries regarding the Court of Protection, please contact Ben Holden on 01256 854 618 or bholden@phillips-law.co.uk