The role of a Deputy is an important one that carries a great deal of responsibility. They step into the client’s shoes, and ‘become’ them for all financial purposes.
A property and affairs Deputy will involve themselves fully in every aspect of the client's life that will have an impact on both their personal and financial situations.
The requirement to act in a person's best interests is a fundamental part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. A Deputy (or any other person or body making a decision on behalf of another who lacks capacity to make that decision) is required to act in that person's best interests. If the client has capacity to make their own decision, that right must be respected.
When establishing what would be in a person’s best interests, consideration should be given to their present and past wishes and feelings, the beliefs and values that would be likely to influence their decision, relevant written statements made by them when they had capacity and any other factors which they would likely consider if they were able to do so. Involving the person lacking capacity as much as is reasonably practicable, along with consulting those close to that person in respect of any decisions, is also key.
On a practical level, the tasks facing a Deputy are extensive, often undertaking the following;
- Deal with the payment of all the client's bills and put in place a structure such that their cash needs can be adequately met whilst also protecting the client from their vulnerability in handling cash
- Liaise with the client and their family over cash needs, bill payments, reimbursement for items bought on the client's behalf and authorisation for how and when such items may be purchased
- Employ the services of a professional in order to manage the investment of the client’s monies
- Liaise with the client and their family regarding financial and investment decisions
- Monitor the client's income and capital gains tax position
- Deal with the recruitment, monitoring and payment of carers
- Attend meetings regarding the client's care and wellbeing with Court of Protection Visitors, case managers, care workers, social workers and other family members
- Deal with the purchase and adaptation of a property for the client to live in
- Deal with the purchase and adaptation of a vehicle for the client to use
- Deal with the purchase of other significant items, such as wheelchairs and therapy equipment
- Ensure the client’s property, contents and vehicle are properly maintained, serviced and insured, including the employment of professionals to carry out maintenance, such as gardeners and handymen;
- Obtain quotes for significant works that need to be carried out, in order to ascertain who will provide the best service at the most appropriate price
- Liaise with persons with whom a client with limited capacity, may have sought to contract to carry out works on the property, deal with the termination of contracts and payment or otherwise for services rendered
- Spend time educating the client as to what they can and can't do with their money, help them budget and plan financially
- Ensure the client receives all the state benefits they are entitled to.
The Court will order that the Deputy is required to make regular reports to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). The OPG supervises all deputies, both lay and professional, across the UK and this is to make sure that the Deputy is acting in the incapacitated person’s best interests.
The Deputy must keep a record of any decisions they make, including
- Major investments
- Changing the care a person is receiving
- Deciding where someone should live
The Deputy must keep copies of any documents about their decisions, including receipts, bank statements, letters and reports from health agencies or social services. The Deputy will usually have to complete a report once a year detailing all of this information, which is then submitted to the Office of the Public Guardian.
The Court can set different levels of supervision depending on the complexity and value of the estate of the client, the relationship between the client and the Deputy and the types of decisions the Deputy is allowed to make.
The powers of the Court and the authority and role of a Deputy are governed by the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the Code of Practice and the Court of Protection Rules.
Contact us if you would like to discuss the appointment of a professional Deputy
Further useful contacts are:
- Court of Protection, Royal Courts of Justice, Thomas More Building, Strand, London, WC2A 2LL Tel: 0300 456 4600
- Office of the Public Guardian, PO Box 15118, Birmingham, B16 6GX Tel: 0300 456 0300