What is Deputy­ship?

A portrait of an adult holding a child
Catrin, UK Solicitor
17/04/2024 ● 4 minutes
Deputy­ship is vital for those who can no longer manage their own af­fairs be­cause of mental in­ca­pa­city, long-term ill­ness or an un­ex­pec­ted injury.

Depu­ties handle im­port­ant de­cisions, play­ing a cru­cial role in en­sur­ing that vul­ner­able in­di­vidu­als re­ceive the ne­ces­sary sup­port and as­sist­ance in man­aging their af­fairs ef­fect­ively.

In this art­icle, we'll dive into deputy­ship - a cru­cial legal setup that looks after people who are unable to make de­cisions for them­selves.

We'll cover the roles and re­spons­ib­il­it­ies of a deputy and the pro­cess to become one, high­light­ing how they pro­tect the in­terests of vul­ner­able in­di­vidu­als.

💡You can avoid deputy­ship by writ­ing a Lasting Power of At­torney (LPA) in ad­vance. An LPA allows you to ap­point someone to manage your af­fairs and spe­cify which mat­ters they can handle. You can create sep­ar­ate LPAs for fin­an­cial mat­ters and health-re­lated de­cisions.

Mean­ing of Deputy­ship

Deputy­ship is a system de­signed to help people who aren't able to handle their own af­fairs.

If someone can't make de­cisions, the Court of Pro­tec­tion steps in and ap­points someone called a "deputy."

This deputy makes im­port­ant de­cisions for them, cov­er­ing everything from fin­an­cial mat­ters to health­care, en­sur­ing that the person's best in­terests are upheld and their af­fairs are prop­erly man­aged.

Avoid Deputy­ship, Create an LPA

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The Role of the Court of Pro­tec­tion in Deputy­ship

The Court of Pro­tec­tion is very im­port­ant in the pro­cess of deputy­ship. After all, this is the court that de­cides if someone needs a deputy be­cause they can't make de­cisions on their own.

Once the court de­cides a deputy is needed it’ll pick a suit­able person to be the deputy, giving them the of­fi­cial go-ahead to start making de­cisions on behalf of the in­ca­pa­cit­ated person.

The court also keeps an eye on depu­ties to make sure they are doing their job right and making de­cisions that are in the best in­terests of the person they are help­ing. This helps keep everything fair and safe.

Roles and Re­spons­ib­il­it­ies of a Deputy

Being a deputy is a big re­spons­ib­il­ity. Here’s a list of re­spons­ib­il­it­ies that deputy handles:

  1. Money Man­age­ment: Depu­ties manage the person's fin­ances, in­clud­ing paying bills, hand­ling bank­ing trans­ac­tions, and safe­guarding their assets.
  2. Health Care: They make de­cisions about medical treat­ment and how the person is looked after.
  3. Daily Life: Depu­ties may be in­volved in de­cisions re­lated to the person's daily activ­it­ies, social en­gage­ments, and other as­pects of per­son­al care.
  4. Pro­tect­ing Rights: Depu­ties ad­voc­ate for and ensure that the person's legal rights are upheld, in­clud­ing pro­tect­ing them from ex­ploit­a­tion or abuse.
  5. Pre­vent­ing Neg­lect: They ensure the person gets the care and at­ten­tion they need, so they aren’t taken ad­vantage of or neg­lected.

Deputy­ship is all about making sure vul­ner­able in­di­vidu­als have someone re­li­able to look out for their best in­terests, giving peace of mind to their fam­ilies too.

Ap­ply­ing for Deputy­ship With the Court of Pro­tec­tion

If you think some­body needs your help as a deputy, here’s the pro­cess you’ll need to apply to become ap­poin­ted as one:

  1. Fill Out the Deputy­ship Ap­plic­a­tion Forms: Start by com­plet­ing the ne­ces­sary forms. These help ex­plain why you be­lieve deputy­ship is needed for the person you want to help.
  2. Gather Ne­ces­sary Doc­u­ments: Col­lect all re­quired doc­u­ments that provide in­form­a­tion about the in­di­vidual’s con­di­tion and your re­la­tion­ship to them. This might in­clude medical re­ports, proof of your re­la­tion­ship, and any rel­ev­ant fin­an­cial in­form­a­tion.
  3. Pay the Ap­plic­a­tion Fee: There are deputy­ship fees for pro­cessing your ap­plic­a­tion, cur­rently these total £371. The amount can vary, though, so it’s im­port­ant to check the cur­rent fees on the Court of Pro­tec­tion’s web­site.
  4. Submit Your Ap­plic­a­tion: Once you've gathered all the re­quired forms and doc­u­ments, send them to the Court of Pro­tec­tion for them to review.
  5. Review by the Court: The Court of Pro­tec­tion will take a close look at your ap­plic­a­tion to see if you're a good fit to be a deputy. They might ask you for more de­tails if they need to un­der­stand your situ­ation better.
  6. Ap­prov­al and Ap­point­ment: If the court de­cides you're right for the job, they'll send you an of­fi­cial doc­u­ment (a Deputy­ship Order) that makes you a deputy. This means you can start making im­port­ant de­cisions for the person who needs help, right away.

Chal­lenges and Sup­port for Deputy­ship

Being a deputy can be chal­len­ging. You may need to handle com­plex fin­ances or make dif­ficult health­care de­cisions, which can be stress­ful, es­pe­cially if you're help­ing a loved one.

But re­mem­ber, you're not alone. There are sup­port groups and re­sources just for depu­ties to help you manage your re­spons­ib­il­it­ies ef­fect­ively.

The Court of Pro­tec­tion also offers guid­ance to help you handle your duties and make the best choices for the person you're as­sisting.

Dif­fer­ence Between Deputy­ship and an LPA

Deputy­ship and Lasting Power of At­tor­neys (LPAs) both allow someone to make de­cisions for an­oth­er person who can’t make them them­selves. However, they are set up dif­fer­ently.

An LPA is set up before a person loses their abil­ity to make de­cisions. It's pro­act­ive, al­low­ing someone to choose a trusted person to make future de­cisions on their behalf.

On the other hand, a deputy­ship is ar­ranged after a person has already lost their de­cision-making ca­pa­city. The Court of Pro­tec­tion ap­points a deputy, rather than the in­di­vidual choos­ing for them­selves.

Set­ting up an LPA early can pre­vent the need for deputy­ship later on.

💡 Think­ing about cre­at­ing a Lasting Power of At­torney? Read more about the role of LPA at­torney

The Im­port­ance and Impact of Deputy­ship

Deputy­ship is cru­cial for pro­tect­ing those who cannot make de­cisions for them­selves. It covers everything from man­aging fin­ances to over­see­ing health care and per­son­al wel­fare. Depu­ties ensure that their charges' rights and in­terests are de­fended, and de­cisions made re­flect their best in­terests.

This role is not easy, but it’s a valu­able way to provide peace of mind to an in­ca­pa­cit­ated person’s loved ones and ensure that vul­ner­able in­di­vidu­als re­ceive the sup­port they need.

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