What is a ‘deputy’?

A deputy can be appointed when someone lacks mental capacity.

A person lacks mental capacity when they can’t make a decision for themselves at the time the decision needs to be made.  It is possible for someone to lack mental capacity but still retain the ability to make their own decisions at certain times.

Lack of mental capacity can arise as a result of a number of factors. Common causes include major traumatic brain injury, dementia and serious learning disabilities.

When a deputy is appointed they will then be authorised by the Court of Protection to make decisions on behalf of the person who lacks capacity.

Two types of deputy exist. First, there are deputies who are responsible for managing a person’s property and financial affairs. This would include paying their bills.

The other type of deputy relates to someone’s personal welfare. This would include making decisions about things such as medical treatment or care.

A deputy can be appointed to deal with just one type, or both types.

Once the Court of Protection appoints a deputy it will issue an order setting out what the deputy can and cannot do. The appointment will remain valid until the order of the court expires, is cancelled or is changed.

The Court of Protection can appoint two (or more) deputies in the same case. If it does this it will indicate how decisions should be made. Some decisions may need to be taken jointly, which involves all the deputies reaching agreement. Other decisions can be taken by deputies separately, which means that agreement among all the deputies isn’t necessary.

Deputies are required to act in the best interests of the person they are assisting and must not make a personal gain. Failure to act appropriately can amount to a criminal offence.

Disputes can and do arise and these can sometimes be linked to wider inheritance issues. If a dispute between deputies or involving a deputy does occur then our experienced lawyers are available to offer specialist advice.

Further details about appointing a deputy and the role of the Court of Protection can be found on our sister site www.courtofprotectionlawyers.co.uk