13. Frequently asked questions
As a deputy, can I give gifts on behalf of my relative?
Generally it is possible for a deputy to make gifts on the person's behalf, but this will depend upon the deputy order, so it's always best to check the order first. Gifts are limited and various factors can affect the limit:
- The finances of the person with dementia will be taken into account. A deputy would not be able to make a gift that would adversely affect the person's finances. For example, if the person had £50,000 in savings and this was being used to pay for their care, a gift worth £30,000 would hugely affect their savings and ability to pay for their care.
- Customary actions by the person with dementia in the past need to be considered. For example, if they have always given family members gifts for their birthdays, celebrations or other holidays such as Christmas or Hanukah, then generally a deputy can continue to do this for the person.
- If the person with dementia still has capacity to decide for themselves who they wish to give gifts to, their wishes should be followed by a deputy. This is unless the gift would jeopardise the person's finances, for example giving so much away they are not leaving themselves with enough.
- Often the court will refer back to the deputy application form - there is a specific section of the form that asks about gifts. This can be completed to show what kinds of gifts the person with dementia has previously given. This can provide guidance for the deputy and court when deciding about giving gifts.
If a deputy is unsure whether they can make a gift, or they are looking at making a large gift, they can refer to the OPG for guidance. In some circumstances, especially if involving a large gift, the Court of Protection may need to make the final decision.
When acting as a deputy can I claim for any out-of-pocket expenses?
Yes, when acting as someone's deputy you can claim for certain expenses. People often don't claim back expenses for a variety of reasons, but no one should be left out of pocket for acting as a deputy. If you are acting on behalf of a relative they probably wouldn't want you to pay these expenses yourself.
You can only claim for certain expenses, for example postage costs, car parking tickets and travel expenses occurred through deputy business. You cannot charge for travel costs for a general family visit, for example. You can only claim expenses when they are for the purposes of performing your role as a deputy. Non-professional deputies, such as relatives or friends, cannot charge for their time.
I heard that if you are someone's deputy you cannot live in their house, even if you pay rent. Is this true?
As a deputy you cannot act in a way that can cause a conflict of interests, so living in the person's house, even if you are paying rent, can cause a conflict between your personal role and your role as a deputy. However, this does not mean that you definitely cannot live in the same house, or live in their house and pay rent. But to be able to do this you will need to get the permission of the Court. The Office of the Public Guardian can provide you with further guidance and information.