Lay and Professional Deputies

Lay deputies

A lay deputy is usually a family member of a person who lacks the ability to make decisions for themselves. People may lack mental capacity because:

  • they’ve had a serious brain injury or illness
  • they have dementia
  • they have severe learning disabilities or other mental health difficulties

A prospective lay deputy makes an application to the Court of Protection to become a deputy for the person in question. If successful, the applicant is empowered to make decisions on their behalf. Attention is needed to clarify whether the lay deputy needs to make one or two significant decisions requiring a decision or declaration from the Court. In these circumstances an interim Order will be needed. If global decisions are required, this will need a general widely drawn Order.

A lay deputy can request authorisation for property and affairs or health and welfare decisions to be made.

Types of Deputy

There are 2 types of deputy:

  • property and financial affairs, eg paying bills, buying or selling a house
  • personal welfare, eg making decisions about medical treatment; where it is in someone’s best interests to live and regarding contact with certain individuals such as parents.

Professional deputies

It is also possible for the Court of Protection to appoint a professional deputy. This is particularly important and more likely if for example an attorney under a power of attorney has abused their role and has abused the person who gave them the power (the donor) financially and/or in relation to their care. A professional deputy has the skills and expertise to deal with the challenges of the role. As a panel deputy, Jane and the team frequently act where donors of Enduring or Lasting Powers of Attorney have been abused financially, or regarding their care. The team assists the Public Guardian in its investigation into wrongdoing regarding the vulnerable party’s affairs.

Where Jane acts as deputy, she and the team will always try to work with the person’s family at all times, but it is important to note their obligations are first and foremost to the vulnerable person.

Duties as a professional deputy often include:

  • Purchasing a property
  • Arranging for a property to be purchased and/or adapted to meet the person’s needs
  • The purchase of an adapted vehicle; aids and equipment
  • Ensuring that the person is receiving all benefits that they are entitled to
  • Employing a case manager to oversee a care team
  • Arranging holidays with support staff
  • Preparation of a Will or a statutory Will (for people aged 18 and over)
  • Submission of annual accounts to the Office of the Public Guardian and arranging for the completion of annual tax returns as appropriate
  • Being alive to safeguarding concerns or risks around neglect or financial abuse and the need for best interests decisions or applications for aspects outside the deputy’s authority such as for gifts or loans. The professional must also be aware of deprivation of liberty aspects and to advise where appropriate for necessary legal authorisations.

The team advises on all aspects of Court of Protection work and the role and duties of deputies. Jane handles deprivation of liberty matters including advising lay deputies around these issues, and what amounts to a deprivation and in what circumstances.

Jane and the team also adhere to the regulatory guidance released by the Public Guardian, which requires proposed expenditure and prospective annual costs to be submitted to the Office of the Public Guardian a year in advance, and is alive to the need to review capacity in accordance with the Code of Practice which accompanies the Mental Capacity Act 2005. In particular, they consider on an ongoing basis whether deputyship is still required, or whether the person may or should be discharged from the auspices of the Court of Protection.

 

“Jane’s advice and guidance was always given with both empathy and professionalism” Read more “Mr P’s story”

Mr P
Lay deputy, Personal, Personal injury