What is the Court of Protection?The Court of Protection – made up of district, senior, and High Court judges – decides upon financial and welfare issues for those who no longer have the mental capacity to do so. One of the roles of the court is to appoint deputies to those who need them.
For instance, if your relative develops dementia, as their mental faculties deteriorate it’s likely they’ll eventually need assistance managing their affairs. The Court of Protection will then authorise a ‘deputy’ who is legally able to make decisions on their behalf.
This doesn’t always mean a deputy is in charge for life; the court can also allow a person to make one-off decisions on behalf of another or let them deal with urgent matters without delay.
Who can become a Court of Protection deputy?Anyone over the age of 18 can take on the role of deputy, so long as they apply to (and are accepted by) the Court of Protection. Usually, a deputy isn’t required if the person requiring one has a lasting power of attorney in place.
In practice, deputies tend to be friends and family, although if a case is particularly complex – dealing with large sums of money or a tangled web of estates – professionals such as lawyers or accountants, paid to take on the role, may be preferred by the courts.
It’s also possible to appoint multiple deputies. As part of your application for multiple deputies (a brother and sister looking after their mother, for example), you must also specify whether it will be a ‘joint deputyship’, in which all deputies unanimously agree on all decisions, or ‘jointly or severally’, allowing decisions to be made by a sole deputy or with others.
You will remain a deputy until the court order is rescinded, changed, or expires.
What is the role of a Court of Protection deputy?There are two kinds of Court of Protection deputyship:
Property and affairs deputyship
Government advice suggests that, in this position, ‘you need to have the skills to make financial decisions for someone else.’
Personal welfare deputyship
Often, you’ll take on this role when disagreements arise over the type of treatment or care given to someone. In these cases, the Court of Protection typically grants deputyship for one-off decisions, unless on-going treatment is required.
Taking on any deputyship comes with plenty of responsibility – that’s partly why many who apply to the Court of Protection use a legal adviser to ensure everything is properly undertaken. Once appointed deputy, you’ll also benefit from guidance from the Office of the Public Guardian.
And it’s an ongoing process. The Government states that, ‘you must consider someone’s level of mental capacity every time you make a decision for them – you cannot assume it’s the same at all times and for all kinds of things.’
The main duties of a court-appointed deputy include:
- Acting in the person’s best interests – from making decisions that reflect the will of your charge to seeking the advice of professionals
- Explaining your decisions to your charge wherever possible
- Completing an online annual report explaining the decisions you’ve made (or writing a final report when your deputyship ends)
What is deputyship supervision?Once you become a deputy, you’ll need to be supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian. This ensures you’re able to effectively take care of your charge.
No matter the size of the estate you’ll be managing, new deputies are all placed under general supervision.
After the first year, if you’re effective in your role, you’ll move on to minimal supervision – provided that you’re looking after an estate valued at less than £21,000. When under minimal supervision, your annual fees are lowered (see ‘How much does it cost to apply for Court of Protection deputyship?’). Your annual report can be shorter, too, as you’ve proved you know what you’re doing.
During your deputyship, the Court of Protection may visit any time, making sure you understand your duties and how you’re undertaking them, as well as checking you’re receiving all the support you need.
How do I apply to the Court of Protection for deputyship?Applying to the Court of Protection for deputyship is a complicated matter. As such, before beginning your application, it’s worth discussing the matter with a solicitor. The Law Superstore’s quote form can help you find the best prices for solicitors in your area.
Together, you’ll need to fill out several forms available from gov.uk. These can be printed and posted or completed online.
- COP1 begins your application to make decisions on someone else’s behalf (you’ll need to send the original form plus a copy)
- COP3 is an assessment of capacity form, which sees a medical professional give an expert opinion on the charge’s mental capacity – if this isn’t possible, you’ll need to use COP24, which lets you outline why you believe the person no longer has the mental capacity to make decisions
- COP4 is your final application, where you need to tell the courts about your personal and financial circumstances, and your ability to make decisions for someone else
- COP1A is required if you’re applying to become someone’s property and affairs deputy
- COP1B is required when applying to become a personal welfare deputy
After applying for deputyship, it’s your duty to inform the person you’re making decisions for, using the COP14 form, which notifies them of your intentions. In return, they may want to complete the COP5 acknowledgement form, either to give their opinion on the subject or provide evidence if they disagree with the ruling.
Finally, you have just seven days to send the court, informing that you’ve notified the relevant people using the forms COP20A and COP20B.
How much does it cost to apply for Court of Protection deputyship?
Application costsWhether you apply to become a property and affairs deputy or a personal welfare deputy, the application cost is £365 each. So, if you want to become someone’s property and affairs and personal welfare deputy it’ll cost £730.
While most applications are determined based on the paperwork, some cases may require a court hearing. If so, this will cost a further £485.
Property and affairs deputies may also need to pay a security bond that protects the person’s finances. Fees will vary depending on how large the person’s estate is and how much of it you’ll control.
Ongoing deputyship costsOnce approved by the courts, you’ll need to pay a new deputy fee of £100. You’ll also need to pay an annual fee depending on your level of supervision; general supervision costs £320 and minimal supervision costs £35.
Making the right decisionsTaking on the decisions of someone else is an important step – and one that should be carried out with a great duty of care.
To check you’re making the right choice and the complex application process is done correctly, you may find it helpful to discuss your situation with a solicitor. Using our quote form, we’ll help put you in touch with up to four legal professionals near you.