Court of Protection Applications
With the ever increasing longevity of the UK population, the question of ageing and quality of life are becoming increasingly fundamental to people’s way of thinking. Some of us may feel an uncomfortable gap in the knowledge and skills we have to cope with the demands of longer living. What do you do if you, a family member or a friend become unable to manage their own affairs?
At Prince Evans, our aim is to provide you with advice and information on all your options in order to protect you, those you care about, and your estate; to avoid problems and prevent unnecessary costs, losses or expense being incurred. Our care and legal system is complex and confusing, so timely advice is vital to avoid later complications.
If someone is no longer able to manage their affairs, it is probably too late to make a Lasting Power of Attorney to appoint someone else to act on their behalf. If there is a continuing need to make decisions on the person’s behalf, you can ask the Court of Protection to appoint you as a deputy. A deputy was previously known as a receiver
In 2011, a DWP press release estimated that nearly one in five people currently in the UK will live to see their 100th birthday. In line with the aging population, there has been a huge increase in the number of deputies appointed by the Court of Protection, with a four-fold increase in applications in the period 2008-2012 – which continues to rise.
The most common reason for a deputy to be appointed is the onset of dementia. In 2015, there are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and it is predicted that there will be 1 million by 2025. At present, one in six people over the age of 80 have dementia. Other reasons for the appointment of a deputy might be an acquired brain injury or a learning disability present from birth.
A deputy is usually a family member or someone who knows the person well. A deputy can make decisions about someone’s personal welfare and / or their property and financial affairs.
If there’s no friend or family member who is suitable or willing to act as a deputy, the Court of Protection can appoint a professional. The team at Prince Evans are delighted to offer this service when needed, with extensive experience in attending to affairs of the elderly.
You will have to be able to show the Office of the Public Guardian that you’re acting in the best interests of the person who has lost their mental capacity and the Court can cancel your appointment if it decides that your appointment is no longer in the best interests of that person.
The Office of the Public Guardian is responsible for supervising and supporting all deputies and attorneys and will require you to submit a report to them of your decisions on behalf of the person without capacity each year.
Most deputies are appointed to deal with property and affairs. Since 2007, there have been over 10 times more of these applications than for the appointment of deputies for health and welfare.
The Court can also authorise a deputy to sign a Will on behalf of someone lacking mental capacity. This is called a Statutory Will. The Court application is lengthy and complex, but it is often in the best interests of the person that their estate does not pass entirely under the intestacy rules. Prince Evans can also assist with this type of application, as well as applications for an order authorising a deputy to sell property held jointly with someone else, on behalf of someone who lacks mental capacity.
If necessary, you can apply to the Court of Protection for an emergency order, which can be made in as little as 24 hours. You might need to do this if an urgent decision is needed to protect someone’s health or safety. It is also possible to apply for an interim order, for example, if urgent action is needed to pay someone’s care home fees.
Banks and building societies agreed a consistent approach to dealing with deputies and attorneys in 2013 and helpful guidance has been jointly developed by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), the British Bankers Association (BBA) and the Building Societies Association (BSA), working in collaboration with the Law Society, Alzheimer’s Society, Solicitors for the Elderly and Age UK, with appropriate guidance as to how to manage a bank account on behalf of someone else being available to download from all their websites.
Regrettably, applying to the Court of Protection to be appointed as a deputy is a lengthy, paper-heavy and expensive process. Keeping up with the increased demand in this area of law, Prince Evans has significant experience and expertise to assist you both with a deputyship application and also with the on-going administration of the deputyship, once the Order has been issued.
The best solution is to plan ahead and complete both types of Lasting Powers of Attorney and a Will when you are in full health and of sound mind. This not only gives you peace of mind, but can lessen the heart ache your loved ones may face, if they are required to make decisions on your behalf.
About the author:
Suzanne Mynors is an associate member of Solicitors for the Elderly, the UK association of solicitors, legal executives and barristers, who provide specialist advice for older, ill, infirm and disabled adults.