Later Life Planning and Wealth Management
Loss of mental capacity is an increasing feature of peoples’ lives as our population ages. Ideally, prior to the onset of mental incapacity, the person concerned will have signed a valid lasting power of attorney. However, where there is no such power, arrangements still need to be made to administer their affairs. In such a case, the only other route is to apply for a deputyship Order.
A deputyship is an Order of the Court of Protection which appoints person(s) to make decisions on behalf of a ‘patient’. As with lasting powers of attorney, Orders can cover both finances and health and care decisions. It should be noted though, that health and care orders are generally less common than their finance counterparts.
It is often the case that close family members or friends apply to the Court to be appointed. However, it is for the Court to decide whom is the most appropriate to act in all the circumstances. Indeed, professionals will sometimes be appointed, either if they have applied themselves, or where the Court makes the Order in favour of a Court of Protection Panel Deputy.
Although a Deputy functions in a similar way to an attorney, they do so with far more oversight and have to have due regard to the Office of the Public Guardian’s ‘Deputy Standards’, which sets out a minimum quality standard of behaviours that deputies must adopt. As such, many clients like to have the support of an appropriate qualified solicitor either to undertake the role, or provide support to the deputy so as to ensure best practice and proper compliance.
Deputies will need to be confident in applying best interest tests, have robust record-keeping and good professional support from a solicitor, financial advisor and, potentially, health care professionals. Far from simply undertaking day to day decisions and transactions, deputies are increasingly required to have an holistic and strategic approach to the affairs of the patient.
Richard Bates of Cognitive Law is a mental capacity specialist and has acted as deputy and for deputies for many years. He has also provided advice to professional firms as to how to best arrange their Court of Protection practice and aspire to ‘best practice’, beyond those required in the Deputy Standards.
Richard can also provide advice on how to undertake the deputyship role in as efficient manner as possible, bearing in mind that the application and ongoing administration does come to a cost to the person concerned.
For more information about deputyships and the Court of Protection please contact our later life team on 0333 400 4499.