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My father has had to go into a care home and his bank will not let me set up a direct debit to pay the care fees monthly from his bank account. Unfortunately he cannot do this himself as he no longer understands what is involved.

Dementia Action Week- Day 4 Making an Application to the Court of Protection

Once someone loses capacity the ability to make a Lasting Power of attorney is lost. This means that there are no legal arrangements in place for someone to make decisions, both financial and health related on behalf of the person who has lost capacity.  In these circumstances, an application will be needed to the Court of Protection to handle your father‘s finances and arrange payment of care fees and claim all pensions and benefits to which they are entitled. A separate application will be needed to cover all non financial, more intimate care decisions.

What is an application to the Court of Protection?

A property and affairs deputyship order is a paper application, meaning that no one needs to attend the court for a hearing. It consists of a detailed list of the person’s assets and outgoings, details of all surviving relatives, names of social workers involved together with a list of regular visitors. Typically it takes six to nine months for the final order to be granted. There is a court fee of £400 and a fee payable to the doctor or independent social worker who has signed off the capacity report which must accompany all applications.

Owing to its nature, the health and welfare application covering decisions such as where the person lives and how they are cared for would necessitate a court appearance by the applicants. It too can take many months.

Who makes the application?

Normally the application is made by family members or, those closest to the person on whose behalf the application is being made. If your mother still understands and wants to help she can be named as one of the applicants alongside a younger family member such as you who can provide practical support. It is preferable that more than one person applies so that should anything happen to one of the applicants there will always be someone to take care of your father. It is much more practical for everyone if the applicants agree to act either together or separately since this is the most flexible way and ensures that someone will be available in an emergency.

What else do I need to know?

Firstly if professional help is sought then the later life expert does not need to meet with your father in person. Instead it would be a medical professional who will be seeing him to certify that he cannot make decisions for himself anymore. Identity documents and contact details will be required by the persons making the application. Once the order is granted the applicants have the ability to control and manage all assets held by the person on whose behalf the application is made. That said, all monies must be used for the person’s benefit and all decisions must be made in his best interests at all times. Often if there is a substantial amount of money involved specialist financial advice is recommended to avoid criticism that the deputies are not fulfilling their duties. At Cognitive Law we have good relationships with financial advisors who can guide you through the process.

How can Cognitive Law help?

If there is really no one who is willing or able to act as decision maker for your father, then our later life experts are willing to take on this role; indeed we already act as professional deputies and attorneys. At Cognitive Law, we would be happy to offer a free initial meeting to discuss this further so that we may get to know one other. If an application is required and there are no friends or family ,the court will appoint a deputy of their choosing from their panel. Obviously this is something that most people would want to avoid.

By Michele Henderson