Deputyship

This section is for people who want to become a deputy for someone living in England and Wales. It also explains the difference between deputyship and a Lasting power of attorney (LPA).

As dementia progresses, a person may lose the ability (known as ‘mental capacity’) to make decisions for themselves. They may become less able to make decisions such as where they will live or what medical treatment they want. They may also become unable to manage their financial affairs. In these  cases, someone else can make these decisions for them, as long as they have the legal power to do so.

Some people with dementia will already have plans in place for a time in the future when they cannot make their own decisions. They may have put a Lasting power of attorney (LPA) or Enduring power of attorney (EPA) in place. However, if they haven’t done this, and you need to make certain decisions on their behalf, you will need to apply to the Court of Protection to become their deputy.

Deputyship is a way of getting the legal authority to make  decisions on someone’s behalf, if that person no longer has the ability to grant an LPA or EPA. The application is only the  beginning of a longer process. If you do become someone’s deputy, there are continuing duties and responsibilities that you will be expected to carry out in the future. You should think carefully about what is involved, and get further advice if you need to, before going ahead.

Deputyship or LPA?

It is important to know the difference between deputyship and Lasting power of attorney (LPA). An LPA is a legal document that allows someone to choose who they would like to make decisions for them in the future, if they cannot make them themselves. Deputyship is used if the person has already lost the capacity to make an LPA, and someone has to request the ability to make decisions on their behalf.

If the person you care for still has capacity to grant an LPA, this is probably a better option for the following reasons:

  • an LPA allows the person to choose who they want to make decisions
  • it may be reassuring for the person to make an LPA and give them a feeling of control at a time when they might be worried about the future
  • LPAs are cheaper than deputyship
  • it can take a long time to arrange a deputyship which can cause problems for families in the meantime, for example if bills have to be paid
  • deputyships for health and welfare decisions are rare, whereas it is possible to have an LPA for those.

However, if the person with dementia has already lost capacity to make an LPA, it will be too late to do that, and deputyship may be the only option.

Deputies

A deputy is a person appointed by the Court of Protection to manage the affairs of someone who lacks the mental capacity to manage their own affairs. There are two different types of deputyship for different types of decision: one for decisions about a person’s property and financial affairs, and one for decisions about their personal welfare.

A deputy is usually a friend or relative of the person who lacks capacity, but in some circumstances it could be a professional such as a solicitor or accountant, or it could be another professional appointed by the court.

Professional deputies will charge for their time, and their fees are normally paid out of the person’s finances. To become a deputy you must be at least 18 years of age and agree to your appointment.

It is possible for a person to have two or more deputies. The Court of Protection will tell you how to make decisions if you are not the only deputy.

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