Following an accident or serious illness, a person may not be mentally capable of making all of their own decisions.
Often, it can be difficult to make decisions about the management of your own or a family member's personal finances, as well as decisions about personal welfare and healthcare matters during such times of change.
The Court of Protection was established to makes decisions about individuals who do not have mental capacity to make the decisions themselves. This can be in respect of the individual's financial affairs and/or healthcare issues and can involve the Court appointing someone else, called a Deputy, to make those decisions on behalf of the person who lacks mental capacity. The Court of Protection works alongside the Office of the Public Guardian which was set up to oversee the general management of the affairs of people lacking capacity and to protect potentially vulnerable individuals who may be exploited.
Deputies have serious responsibilities as well as a duty to make decisions in the vulnerable person's best interests. Deputies are only empowered to make those decisions which they have been authorised to do so by the Court of Protection. Property and Affairs Deputies have a duty to keep accounts and keep the money and property of the incapable person, on whose behalf they are acting, entirely separate from their own.
Anyone including a family member or friend, a solicitor or the local authority can be appointed as a Property and Affairs Deputy by the Court. Welfare Deputies with complete authority to make what could be 'life or death' decisions are rarely appointed.
Why appoint a Professional Deputy?
It is not unusual for the Court of Protection to appoint Professional Deputies, such as solicitors to act on behalf of a person deemed to lack capacity.
Dealing with the Court of Protection can be time consuming and stressful, especially when the family are also trying to provide care and support. Having an experienced and Professional Deputy on hand can prove invaluable in getting the best legal advice for the person lacking capacity and their family. Any court-appointed Deputy is obliged to maintain a high standard of care when making decisions.
A Professional Deputy is also independent of the person lacking capacity, and so is able to make those difficult decisions that a family appointed Deputy would be uncomfortable making such as accommodation needs or refusing a request for money if it would not be in the person's best interests to grant the request.
How can we help?
At Shoosmiths we have a large dedicated Court of Protection Team and can offer a full, professionally managed Deputyship service.
Appointing Shoosmiths ensures that there is always someone on your side who fully understands the legal procedures. We can help to lighten the administrative burden and handle things like the completion of Court of Protection forms, preparation of annual accounts and liaison with third parties. We also ensure that funds are properly invested and managed and take care of the procedures for other application such as property purchases or applying to make a Statutory Will.
As a Professional Deputy, we will maintain a personal relationship with our client and their families whilst remaining professional at all times. Our ability to balance the emotive nature of this work, the needs of our clients and the specific requirements of the Court means that we are able to arrange swift and effective progress in even the most sensitive and complex of cases.
What other specialist advice do we offer?
- The appointment of Property and Financial Affairs Deputies
- The appointment of Welfare Deputies
- Statutory Wills
- Lifetime gifts
- Sale of property
- Benefits advice for those under the Court of Protection
- Managing Local Authority Direct Payments
- Entitlement to Local Authority, NHS and other public funding
- Seeking appropriate investment advice
- Completion of annual tax return by our in-house accountant
- Completion of annual Deputyship reports