Tags – Becoming a Deputy for someone with dementia
There may come a time when a person diagnosed with dementia cannot make important life decisions for themselves.
Usually, the person with dementia and their family can plan ahead for this and appoint a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) who can make decisions on their behalf.
However, if the person in question’s health deteriorates before an LPA is made, and a carer believes they need to make their decisions for them, they will need to apply to become their deputy.
Here, we outline the responsibilities of a deputy for someone with dementia, how to apply and factors to consider before making a decision.
What is a Deputy?
A deputy is someone appointed by the Court of Protection to manage the affairs of someone who has not got the mental capacity to make their own decisions that relate to:
- Personal finances
- Medical treatment
- Personal welfare; i.e. the clothes they wear
Typically, a deputy will be a friend or relative but in some cases, it can be a professional such as a solicitor or accountant – professional deputies will charge for their time and will be paid for by the person with dementia.
However, paid care workers should not apply to act as a deputy due to their being a possible conflict of interest.
In order to be a deputy, you must be at least 18 years old and be willing, as there are continuing tasks and responsibilities you’ll be expected to carry out in the long term.
Types of Deputyship
There are two types of deputyship; property and affairs, and personal welfare.
Property and Affairs Deputyship
This is the most common form of deputyship and as the name suggests, is appointed to manage someone’s financial affairs when they no longer have the mental capacity.
If the person with dementia has no property or savings, and their only income is through benefits, there will not usually be a deputy appointed, as this can be managed by an appointee, appointed by the Department for Work and Pensions.
If you do apply for property and affairs deputyship, you will be required to sign a declaration that outlines your circumstances and details of the tasks you must carry out. The court will expect you to have the skills, knowledge and commitment, and you will need to assure them that there’s nothing that would deem your deputyship inappropriate, such as financial problems yourself.
Personal Welfare Deputyship
This type of deputyship is quite rare and is usually appointed in circumstances where no resolution can be reached in the best interest of the person in question.
The Court of Protection would not usually appoint a deputy to make decisions about someone’s health unless regular treatment or supervision is required.
And, if there are any disagreements as to what is in the person’s best interest, the court may need to intervene.
How to Apply for Deputyship
If you want to apply to become a deputy for someone with dementia, you will need to submit an application to the Court of Protection.
And this process involves giving the court detailed information related to the circumstances and finances of the person with dementia.
The following forms will need to be completed:
- COP1: main application form
- COP1A: supporting information for property and affairs
- COP3: assessment of capacity
- COP4: deputy’s declaration
Further guidance for these forms can be obtained from the Court of Protection and their website; they can also help you to complete the forms in case you’re unsure of anything.
On the other hand, you can ask a solicitor to make an application for you.
Then, the Court of Protection will assess the information provided and it can take up to 16 weeks to reach a decision – in more complex cases, this can be longer.
Before applying to become a deputy, it’s important to consider the ongoing responsibilities involved to ensure you are able to keep up with all of the tasks in the future.
And because you are making decisions on their behalf, you will be required to:
- Act with care and in good faith
- Not take advantage of the situation or the person with dementia
- Protect the person against liabilities to third parties
- Not delegate your duties unless authorised
- Respect the person’s confidentiality
- Comply with the directions from the Court of Protection
For a Property and Affairs deputy, you will also have a responsibility to keep accounts and keep the person’s money and property separate from your own.
Usually, a deputy’s first duty is to arrange a security bond with an insurer, and the court requires all deputies to do this.
Simply, a security bond is an insurance policy designed to financially protect the person with dementia in case the deputy was to mismanage their finances, and determines the amount of cash the deputy will have control of, including any properties.
Limits to a Deputy’s Powers
The power granted to a deputy will be limited in duration and extent as much as reasonably possible.
But, there are specific restrictions put in place. A deputy cannot:
- Restrain the person with dementia
- Make a decision if the person with dementia can make it themselves
- Go against a decision made by a Power of Attorney
- Refuse life-saving treatment for a person with dementia who cannot grant their own consent
Should a deputy go against these restrictions, the court has every right to cancel the deputyship at any time.
It’s worth noting, that every deputy order will be different and there can sometimes be additional clauses and limits, like how much can be spent in a single transaction, for example.
Want to know more? Please get in touch today.
In the meantime, take a look at our Court of Protection solicitors.
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