It is devasting when a loved one loses mental capacity. They may no longer be able to manage their own affairs and relatives, or close friends may worry about what to do in this situation. If a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) has previously been prepared, this means someone has already been appointed to take on the role of managing their affairs should they lose capacity. However, if they lose mental capacity and an LPA has not already been put in place, they can no longer choose who to appoint. This does not mean, however, that a trusted person cannot be appointed. In this event, a deputyship application can be made to the Court of Protection.
An application would be made to the Court of Protection to appoint a person to be responsible for dealing with the property and financial affairs and/or health and welfare of the person who has lost capacity. A relative or close friend is often appointed. Alternatively, a Professional Deputy can be appointed.
A Professional Deputy, such as a solicitor, may be the preferred option as they have expertise in this area and experience in acting for vulnerable clients. For instance, if the person who lacks capacity has a large estate, or complicated assets such as investments, it may be sensible for a Professional Deputy to be appointed to ensure the assets are managed adequately. Professional Deputies often have third party contacts, such as financial advisors and care managers, who they can refer to, ensuring the right decisions are made to suit the needs of the person who lacks capacity.
There might also come a point where a separate application needs to be made to the Court to authorise certain transactions, such as the sale of a property. Professional Deputies have experience in completing the necessary forms and providing the required documentation to the Court to ensure such transactions are approved in a timely manner.
A Professional Deputy will always act in the best interests of the person who lacks capacity, whilst retaining the ability to say ‘no’ when appropriate, which could be more difficult for a relative or friend if they were appointed. A Professional Deputy will always, however, consider the views and suggestions of the family and close friends.
The position of a Deputy comes with great responsibilities and requires detailed annual reports to be submitted to the Office of the Public Guardian. This may be considered overwhelming and a burden to some people. Professional Deputies remove the potential burden from a spouse, child or friend and provides peace of mind so they can focus on being there for their loved one.
Indeed, it may be appropriate for a relative or close friend to be appointed as Deputy, and a Solicitor can provide advice and offer a helping hand to assist in the deputyship administration.