What is the Court of Protection?
The Court of Protection is made up of district, senior, and High Court judges who make final decisions around financial and personal care issues for people who have lost the mental capacity to do so themselves. One of the roles of the court is to appoint deputies to those who need them.
For example, if your relative develops dementia, as they become more ill, it's likely they'll need assistance managing their affairs. The Court of Protection will then authorise a ‘deputy’ who is legally able to make welfare decisions on their behalf.
Being granted the responsibility of deputyship doesn't always mean that a you'll be in charge for life. The court can instead allow someone to make one-off decisions for another person or handle urgent matters.
Who can become a Court of Protection deputy?
Applications to the court for a Court of Protection can be accepted for anyone 18 or older. Usually, a deputy isn't necessary if the person in need of support has a lasting power of attorney already in place.
Deputies are usually friends and family members, but for difficult cases, courts might choose professionals like lawyers or accountants. Complex cases may include a tangled web of property and financial affairs, usually with larger sums of money involved. Courts may prefer lawyers and accountants for these cases as they're better suited to manage such complicated assets.
It’s also possible for multiple deputies to be appointed by the court. As part of your application for multiple deputies, you must also specify whether it will be a ‘joint deputyship.' This is a confirmation that 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You will continue to be a deputy until the court order is rescinded, changed, or expires.
What is the role of a Court of Protection deputy?
There are two types of deputy when receiving a Court of Protection deputyship:
Property and affairs deputyship
The most common type of deputyship sees you manage finances when a person who lacks capacity is unable to. As a property and affairs deputyship, it’s important not to mix your money with others’. You must also ensure that you keep an accurate record of the finances you manage for the other person.
Government advice suggests that, in this position, ‘you need to have the skills to make financial decisions for someone else.’
Personal welfare deputyship
This deputyship focuses on managing the care and treatment of someone unable to make decisions for themselves.
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. Many people who apply use a legal adviser to ensure they properly undertake everything. 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' and that you can't '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. This includes making decisions that reflect the will of your charge and 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)
Court of Protection deputyship also comes with a few restrictions intended to prevent abuse of power. For instance, you can’t hold money or assets under your own name on behalf of your charge, make or amend a will in their name, or deal with property they jointly own with another.
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. A medical professional will give an expert opinion on the charge’s mental capacity but if this isn’t possible, you’ll need to use COP24. A COP24 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. You will also need to explain 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
Your application must name a minimum of three people who also know the person you wish to make decisions for. As an example, the court suggests these might be relatives, social workers, or a doctor. You must send each person the COP15 form, notifying them of your Court of Protection deputyship application.
After applying for deputyship, it’s your duty to inform the person you’re making decisions for. You do this with the COP14 form, notifying them of your intentions. In return, they may want to complete the COP5 acknowledgement form. They can do this to either to give their opinion on the subject or to provide evidence should they disagree with the ruling.
Finally, you'll have just seven days to inform court that you've notified the relevant people using the COP20A and COP20B forms.
How much does it cost to apply for Court of Protection deputyship?
Whether 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 costs
Once 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 decisions
Taking 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.