How to apply to become a deputy for a person with dementia
Find out about the deputyship application process and what happens after you become a deputy.
Deciding to become a deputy
It can be a privilege to be a deputy for someone you care for. However, becoming a deputy for a person with dementia is a big decision. It may help to discuss the idea with others before you apply. For example, you could:
- talk to friends or family members who have experience of deputyship
- find other carers who have experience of deputyship, for instance, on our online community Talking Point
- consult a solicitor or accountant (note that they will charge a fee for this consultation)
- talk to one of our trained dementia advisers by calling 0333 150 3456
- ask the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) for more information about the role before applying.
Submitting a deputyship application
To apply to become a deputy, you will need to submit an application to the Court of Protection. The application process involves giving the court detailed information about the circumstances of the person with dementia.
This could include the person’s living arrangements and family relationships, as well as details about their finances or care arrangements. This will depend on the type of deputyship you are applying for.
As part of your application, you will need to complete the following forms (the reference code is shown in brackets):
- the main application form (COP1) – this covers basic information about the person, for example where they live and details of their family members, including at least three people who should be notified of your application
- Annex A: supporting information for property and affairs applications (COP1A) – this covers the person’s income, including any benefits they receive, savings, investments and property they own. It also covers their expenses (including care costs) and any debts they owe
- Annex B: supporting information for personal welfare applications (COP1B) – this covers details of the professionals and social workers involved in the person’s care. It also covers details of the care or treatment that you need to make decisions about
- assessment of capacity (COP3)
- deputy’s declaration (COP4).
The COP3 form is in two parts. You have to complete Part A and a ‘practitioner’ has to complete Part B. This is so they can give their opinion about the person’s mental capacity. There is a range of professionals who qualify as a ‘practitioner’ and these are explained on the form.
The COP4 declaration explains your circumstances and includes details of the responsibilities you will be taking on as a deputy.
You need to explain your job (if you have one) and whether you have ever been convicted of a criminal offence. In property and affairs applications, you also need to give details of your own finances.
You must be able to show the court that you have the skills, knowledge and commitment to carry out your responsibilities. You must also assure them that there is nothing that might make your appointment inappropriate – for example, if you have severe financial or health problems yourself, or if you are bankrupt.
In some cases, you may also need to complete the following forms:
- permission of the court to apply for deputyship (COP2) – this is usual for personal welfare deputyships, but not for property and affairs deputyships. You will need to explain why you specifically need a deputyship and whether the person’s need could be met in another way
- a witness statement (COP24) – this may be needed if you have to explain something in particular to the court, for example if you are unable to submit an assessment of capacity form COP3. These situations are rare. The COP24 can be used to explain why you are unable to do so and why you think the person you are applying to be a deputy for lacks capacity to make certain decisions.
You will also need to tell certain people that you are applying to become a deputy. This includes the people you name in your application, as well as the person you are applying to be a deputy for.
You can access all these forms (including the notification forms) and get further guidance on the Court of Protection’s website.
Support with completing the forms
The court may be able to help you to complete your application forms. However, they cannot provide legal advice.
Another option is to ask a solicitor to make an application on your behalf. Note that you will be charged for this.
- For a property and affairs deputyship, the cost of this can be paid using the person’s money. The court will usually authorise the payment in the deputyship order. However, it may only allow you to use a fixed or limited amount of the person’s money for legal fees. For this reason, it is important that you discuss fees with the solicitor as early as possible. That way, you can work out whether the court will let you pay the full fees from the person’s money. If not, you will have to pay the difference yourself.
- For a personal welfare deputyship, you will have to pay the full amount yourself.
Deputyship application fee
You will need to pay an application fee to the court when you submit your application.
In the case of a property and affairs deputyship, this money can come from the finances of the person with dementia. The court will allow this in the deputyship order. If you pay this with your own money but then the court decides that the money can come from the person with dementia, you can claim it back from the person once you have been made their deputy.
Some people can get exemptions or reductions on their application fee, depending on the financial situation of the person with dementia. In the case of a personal welfare deputyship, it is your own financial situation that counts.
For more information about the current application fee amounts, exemptions and reductions, contact the Court of Protection.
After the application forms are submitted
Once the forms have been completed and submitted, the Court of Protection will assess how suitable you are to be a deputy, using the information that you have provided.
You will also need to tell certain people that you are applying to become a deputy. This includes the people you have named in your application, as well as the person you are applying to be a deputy for. You can find the notification forms on the government website.
The application process can be quite long. After applying, you should allow several months for a decision.
Next steps after you become a deputy
Once the court has made a deputyship order, they will send you the physical order in the post. The physical order is a paper copy of the deputyship order that is sealed by the court. You will need this to show that you are a deputy to banks and other organisations.
The type of deputyship you have applied for will affect when you will receive the physical order.
- If you become a deputy for personal welfare, the court will send you a sealed copy of the physical deputyship order straight after it is made.
- If you become a deputy for property and affairs, you will have to arrange a ‘security bond’ with an insurer before the court will send you the physical order.
A security bond is a type of insurance policy, which is designed to financially protect the person with dementia in the unlikely event that you don’t manage their finances properly – for example, if you commit fraud or accidentally make an incorrect payment.
Once the court has made a deputyship order for property and affairs, they will send you guidance on how to arrange a security bond. The size of the security bond will depend on:
- the value of what the person owns
- how much of what they own is under your control.
In some cases, the court will decide that a security bond isn’t needed. This could happen if the value of what the person owns is very low.
You will have to pay a fee for the bond when you set it up. You will also have to pay a yearly fee while you are a deputy. This is like an insurance premium that is paid every year.
The amount you pay each year will depend on how much the bond is for. You can pay these fees from any money that you hold for the person. Or you can pay from your own money and be paid back when you have access to the person’s bank account.
Once you have arranged the security bond, the court will send you the physical order in the post.
Informing others about your deputyship
As a deputy, you will need to tell various organisations about your deputyship before they will agree to deal with you on behalf of the person with dementia. This includes providing evidence of the deputyship order.
Many will also ask to see some proof of your identity (for example, your passport). Banks and building societies, in particular, will ask for this before giving you access to the person’s bank account.
You may need to tell the following organisations about your deputyship:
- the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – for pensions or benefits
- the local authority – for housing benefits, needs assessments or assistance with care fees
- banks or building societies
- utility companies – for example, for gas, electricity and water bills
- insurance companies
- the person’s accountant (if they have one)
- the payer of any private pensions
- HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) – for example, if you need to submit a tax return for the person
- the solicitor who holds the person’s will or property deeds
- the care home where the person lives (if they are living in one).
It is also a good idea to inform other people involved in the person’s care, such as their carers, family members and friends.
Supervision from the Office of the Public Guardian
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is there to protect anyone who lacks the mental capacity to make decisions for themself. As part of this, the OPG has a responsibility to check that a deputy is carrying out their role properly. This involves making sure that:
- you keep to the terms of the deputyship order you are acting in the person’s best interests
- the decisions you make on behalf of the person follow the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
The OPG can call or visit you to check that you are doing what you should. There are two different levels of supervision:
- General – all new deputies are placed under general supervision in their first year because they may need more support and guidance. Most deputies stay under general supervision following their first year.
- Minimal – if the assets of the person with dementia are below a set limit and there are no concerns about the deputy, they will be placed under minimal supervision after their first year.
For more information on supervision levels, including the financial threshold for minimal supervision, contact the OPG.
The OPG can ask the Court of Protection to cancel a deputy’s appointment at any time, if they decide the deputy is no longer acting in the person’s best interests. They may also involve the police if they are concerned that the deputy has committed financial abuse – for example, if the deputy steals from the person or commits fraud.
As a deputy you have to pay a supervision fee every year. This is in addition to the application fee that you pay when you apply for deputyship.
The amount of supervision fee you have to pay will depend upon the level of supervision that you are under. The OPG will let you know when and how to pay this fee. Normally, you can pay it using the money of the person you are deputy for.
There are some exemptions and reductions, as in the case of the application fee. For more information and current rates, contact the OPG.
Support from the OPG
The OPG will also check that you are getting the right level of support from them. As well as protecting the person with dementia, the OPG is there to support people in their role as a deputy. There are various ways that the OPG can do this – both by phone calls and through home visits. This support is included in the annual supervision fee.
To be sure that you are carrying out your role properly, it can be helpful to ask the OPG any questions you have. Often a quick phone call can resolve any issues and it can be a good way of getting support if you are having problems.
Emergency and urgent applications
If a decision has to be made immediately, it is sometimes possible to apply to the Court of Protection to get an urgent or emergency court order.
Emergency court orders
It is possible to apply to the Court of Protection on a one-off basis to get an emergency court order.
You can make an emergency application if there is an immediate risk to the person – for example, if they need medical treatment right away and are unable to consent to it. You can do this whether you’re applying for deputyship or not.
To make your emergency application, call the court on 020 7421 8824 and ask to speak to an urgent business officer. They will discuss the case with you and make arrangements to receive your application and present it to a judge. If you need to make an application when the court is closed, the out-of-hours number is 020 7947 6000.
Urgent interim orders
If a specific decision needs to be made urgently, but the person is not at immediate risk, you can also apply for an urgent ‘interim’ order. This could be the case if, for example, you need to get money from the person’s bank account to pay outstanding care home fees.
You can only apply for an urgent court order if you’re already applying to become a deputy but your application has not yet been approved.
To apply for an urgent interim order, you will need to complete an application form (COP9). This must include an explanation of why the decision is urgent and cannot wait until you’re made a deputy.
You will also need to send copies of any evidence to support what you are saying – for example, an invoice from the care home. You can access the form and get further guidance on the government website.
Support from other organisations
We've listed the contact details of organisations that can provide support with deputyship applications.
Dementia Support Line
Dementia Support Forum
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