Ideally, a person who loses mental capacity will have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place. An LPA gives another person the power to make decisions on their behalf about their care, finances and other matters.
If no LPA is in place, but you need the legal right to make decisions for another person, you should apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputy appointment.
Solomons Solicitors can advise on the complex legal issues that surround a person losing mental capacity. Speak to us today for sensitive support.
What is the Court of Protection?
The Court of Protection is a specialist court that makes decisions for people who lack the capacity to do so themselves. They have a range of responsibilities, including:
- deciding whether a person has the capacity to make a certain decision;
- giving permission for a one-off decision to be made on another’s behalf;
- handling issues related to powers of attorney;
- appointing deputies to make decisions for others.
What is a deputy?
A deputy is a person appointed by the Court of Protection to handle the affairs of someone who lacks the mental capacity to do so themselves.
The two types of deputy
There are two types of deputy: a Property and Affairs Deputy and a Personal Welfare Deputy.
Property and affairs deputies make decisions about financial matters, for instance, organising the person’s pension or paying bills. Personal welfare deputies make decisions about the person’s medical treatment and care.
It is unusual for the court to appoint personal welfare deputies. Ordinarily, it will make a decision itself about health and welfare disputes, rather than appoint a deputy to do so.
The deputy’s powers
The deputy’s powers are set out in the court order appointing them. They typically include:
- dealing with income;
- paying bills and debts;
- handling assets;
- managing or selling property;
- making investment decisions;
- making small gifts.
Who can be a deputy?
A deputy must be eighteen years or older. They must also have completed a deputy’s declaration to confirm that they are financially sound and fully understand their responsibilities.
A friend or family member can be a deputy. The role can also be done by a professional, such as a lawyer.
How long does it take to appoint a deputy?
It usually takes around five to eight months for a deputy appointment to be made, though it can take longer. An interim order can be granted for urgent matters.
Lasting Powers of Attorney Lawyers, Bournemouth
There is a great deal of stress and cost involved in applying to the courts for deputyship. Whilst it is reassuring to know that there is a way to handle matters should a loved one lose capacity unexpectedly, it is nevertheless an imperfect solution.
By contrast, a Lasting Power of Attorney is a straightforward way to ensure you can act for your loved one as soon as they need you to. It is never too early to put an LPA in place, but it can be too late.