Duties of a deputy and limits to a deputy's powers

If you are thinking of becoming a deputy for a person with dementia, it is important to consider the responsibilities involved. You will be taking on many duties, which this page will tell you about.

Duties of a deputy

When acting as a deputy and making decisions on behalf of another person, you have a duty to:

  • act in the person’s best interests
  • act with due care and skill (known as ‘duty of care’)
  • not take advantage of the situation of the person with  dementia (known as ‘fiduciary duty’)
  • not delegate your duties unless authorised to
  • do so in the deputyship order
  • act in good faith
  • respect the person’s confidentiality
  • comply with the directions of the Court of Protection.

If you are a deputy for property and affairs, you also have a duty to:

  • keep accounts
  • keep the person’s money and property separate from your own, for example by using separate bank accounts.

Deputy annual report

As a deputy you will have to provide an annual deputyship report to the court. This gives the court information about the decisions that you have made on behalf of the person with dementia. It should also provide summary accounts for the court to approve, if you are a property and affairs deputy.

You must provide information about financial transactions in the previous year, including any gifts the person has made, their care arrangements and any property that they have bought or sold. You may be asked to provide evidence, such as bank statements.

The OPG will offer you guidance on how to do this and can provide copies of the forms that you will need to complete. They can also provide details of their online reporting service which can help with record keeping throughout the year. If you have any queries, contact them for support.

Mental Capacity Act 2005

Find more information about what it means to act in a person's best interests.

More information

Limits to a deputy’s powers

A deputy’s powers should be as limited as reasonably possible, both in terms of what they can do and how long they last. This means that the deputy should only have the powers that they really need to have and no more.

There are also some specific restrictions on a deputy’s powers. A deputy cannot:

  • make a decision for the person if they can make the decision themselves
  • restrain the person with dementia, except in very particular circumstances to prevent harm to the person
  • go against a decision made under an existing
  • power of attorney
  • refuse life-sustaining treatment for a person who lacks capacity to consent to this.

Every deputyship order is different, and it may contain further limits to the deputy’s powers. For example, the court may place a limit on how much can be spent in a single transaction, or a cap on how much can be spent in a certain period of time.

The court can cancel a deputy’s appointment at any time if it decides the appointment is no longer in the best interests of the person who lacks capacity.

As a deputy you should consider the person’s level of mental capacity every time a decision needs to be made, as it can change. A person may be able to make a certain decision at one time but not another, or at a certain time be able to make some decisions but not others. You should not assume that it is the same for all decisions and at all times, and you
should do what you can to support the person to make the decision for themselves.

Dementia Connect support line
Our dementia advisers are here for you.
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