What is a Court of Protection appointed Deputy?
If someone does not have the ability to make financial decisions, another person, usually a carer, close friend or relative, can apply to the Court of Protection to become their Deputy. This would give you the authority to make decisions on behalf of your relative. You have to be at least 18 years old to be appointed as a Deputy. You will be asked if you have ever been made bankrupt or had any court judgements relating to debt made against you. If you have, this may affect your application.
If someone does not have the ability to make financial decisions, another person, usually a carer, close friend or relative, can apply to the Court of Protection to become their Deputy.
The Court and the Deputy can make decisions about the person’s property, finances, health and personal welfare. The Court can appoint two or more Deputies to act. The person who the deputy is acting on behalf of is known as the donor.
Before 2007 this process used to be called appointing a ‘receiver’ to deal with someone else’s affairs.
Fees that may apply
It costs £400 to apply to become a deputy and another £100 for an assessment if you are a new deputy. There may be further costs to pay if the court decides that there needs to be a hearing or that you need to be supervised.
If you are receiving certain benefits or are on a low income you may be exempt from paying the fee or you may only have to pay part of the fee. It is also possible to ask the court to not charge the fee if paying it would cause you financial hardship.
You can find more information about the fees associated with becoming a deputy.
Protection for the donor
The court may ask the deputy to provide security to cover any loss as a result of the deputy’s behaviour in carrying out their role. This security will usually be in the form of a guarantee bond which is a type of insurance policy. This will protect the donor against any loss resulting from a deputy’s negligent or irresponsible behaviour. The insurer will cover the donor for any loss and then seek to recover the loss from the deputy.
To apply to become a deputy you will have to fill in an application form and send it to the Court. There is also a form that a medical professional has to fill in after assessing your relative’s capacity in relation to the specific decision.
There are a number of forms that you may have to fill in depending on whether you are applying to make decisions relating to property and finances or health and personal welfare and whether you need permission from the court or not. Find out more information on these forms.
Contact the Court of Protection
You can also contact the Court of Protection enquiry line on 0300 456 4600 and ask for the forms to be sent to you. There is a useful guide about making an application to the Court of Protection called the COPFAQ.
Once the court has received your application they should respond within 14 days, as long as there were no problems with the application form and you have told everyone involved in the application. The final decision usually takes between 8 and 14 weeks from making your application, as long as no one objects.
If someone does object, there might need to be a hearing. There is a £500 fee for this. The Court of Protection provide a useful guide to help you prepare for the hearing.
Making an urgent application
It is possible to make an urgent application for example if a house sale is going through and there is a risk your relative might lose the buyer, or funds need to be released to pay for critical care or maintenance. To make your urgent application there is a section within the application form you use to explain that something is urgent.
Providing evidence, such as an unpaid bill to the Court of Protection is important, as well as giving them the bank account details any payment might need to be made to.
In real emergencies, such as the risk that someone is going to be removed from where they live it is possible to speak to an Urgent Business Officer by calling 0207 421 8824. This telephone number is for emergencies only. For general enquiries you should contact the Court of Protection on 0300 456 4600
What you can do if you are a deputy
If the Court makes you a deputy, it will state exactly which decisions you can make. For example, you could be authorised to withdraw money from your relative’s bank account in order to pay for essential goods and services, or you could be authorised to make decisions regarding the sale of your relative’s home. You must always act in the best interests of your relative when making the decisions. You must also follow the guidance within the Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice.
If you are a deputy and need to have dealings with your relative’s bank or building society, the bank will need to see proof of your position and are also likely to ask for proof of identification, such as a passport or driver’s licence and also proof of address.
If at any point you believe your relative is in a position to deal with their own affairs again, you must inform the Court of Protection. If the Court is happy that your relative has regained capacity, then your appointment as Deputy will end.