Becoming a deputy for a person with dementia

This section outlines the responsibilities of a deputy, how to apply to become one, and factors to consider before deciding to do so.

There may come a time when a person with dementia cannot make significant decisions for themselves. This is more likely during the moderate to advanced stages of dementia. In this situation, someone else may need to make decisions on their behalf.

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 or Enduring Power of Attorney in place. However, if the person with dementia has not previously done this, and a carer feels they need to make decisions on their behalf, they will need to apply to the Court of Protection to become their deputy.

This information is for people living in England and Wales. 

What is a deputy? 

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. A deputy is usually a friend or relative of the person who lacks capacity, but in some circumstances could be a professional such as a solicitor or accountant or another professional appointed by the court. Professional deputies will charge for their time, and this is paid for by the person with dementia (or their estate).

To become a deputy you must be at least 18 years of age and willing to be a deputy. A deputy must consent to their appointment.

Paid care workers should not agree to act as a deputy because of the possible conflict of interest. In exceptional circumstances (for example, if the care worker is the only close relative of the person who lacks capacity), this may be unavoidable.

There are two different types of deputyship: property and affairs, and personal welfare.

Types of deputyship

Property and affairs deputyship

A property and affairs deputyship is the most common form of deputyship. Someone must apply to become a deputy if they feel they need to manage someone's financial affairs. This usually only happens if the person who lacks capacity to make decisions about property and affairs has not made a Lasting Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney.

Usually, the court will not appoint a deputy if the person has already appointed an attorney to manage their financial affairs. Similarly, when a person has no property or savings and their only income is social security benefits, there will usually be no need for a deputy to be appointed. This is because the benefits can be managed by an appointee, appointed by the Department for Work and Pensions. 

If you make an application to become a property and affairs deputy, you will need to sign a declaration. The declaration will outline your circumstances and include details of the tasks and duties you as a deputy must carry out. You must be able to assure the court that you have the skills, knowledge and commitment to carry them out. You must also assure them that there is nothing that might make your appointment inappropriate, eg if you have severe financial and/or health problems yourself, or are bankrupt.

Personal welfare deputyship

A personal welfare deputyship is rare. If a person lacks capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment and has not appointed an attorney, someone must apply to become a deputy if they feel they need to manage that person's personal affairs. They are only appointed in the more extreme circumstances where no resolution can be reached in the best interests of the person. The Court of Protection does not usually appoint deputies to make continuing decisions about someone's health and welfare unless regular treatment or supervision is needed, for example with a younger person.

These decisions can usually be made in the person's best interests by those providing care and/or treatment. If there is a disagreement as to what is in the person's best interests, or the decision relates to specified serious medical treatment, it may be necessary to ask the court to intervene.

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