What is an Office of Care and Protection appointed Controller?
If someone doesn’t have the ability to make financial decisions, another person, usually a carer, close friend or relative, can apply to the Office of Care and Protection to become their Controller. 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 Controller. 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, you might affect your application.
If someone doesn’t have the ability to make financial decisions, another person, usually a carer, close friend or relative, can apply to the Office of Care and Protection to become a Controller.
The OCP and the Controller can make decisions about the person’s property, finances, health and personal welfare. The Court can appoint two or more Controllers to act. The person who the Controller is acting on behalf of is known as the donor.
Fees that may apply
It costs £440 to apply to become a Controller. There may be further costs to pay, such as annual administration costs.
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 hardship.
You can find more information about the fees associated with becoming a Controller on the Courtsni website.
The court may ask the Controller to provide security to cover any loss as a result of the Controller’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 Controller’s negligent or irresponsible behaviour, the insurer will cover the donor for any loss and then seek to recover the loss from the Controller.
To apply to become a Controller you will have to fill in an application form and send it to the OCP. 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. These forms can be found on the Courtsni website.
Contact the Office of Care and Protection
You can also contact the Office of Care and Protection by emailing OCP@courtsni.gov.uk or calling 0300 200 7812 and ask for the forms to be sent to you.
There is a useful guide about making an application for Controllership.
The Office does not accept incoming telephone calls after 12.30pm on Monday or Wednesday afternoons, or all day Friday.
If you need to contact the Office urgently, please use the e-mail: OCP@courtsni.gov.uk.
What you can do if you are a Controller
If the Court makes you a Controller, 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.
If you are a Controller 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 Office of Care and Protection. If the OCP is happy that your relative has regained capacity, then your appointment as Controller will end.