Deputies have a duty to act in the best interests of the person they are acting for and to do this you don’t need to have legal experience. However, the role can be demanding, worrying, time consuming and a lot of responsibility to take on.
In effect, you are stepping into your loved one’s shoes and will be required to make the same decisions with regard to their property and financial affairs as they would make themselves, if they had capacity.
The next steps
- Check the authority in the deputyship order to ensure there are no errors and whether there are any limitations. If there are either errors or unexpected limitations, you should contact the Court of Protection immediately
- Check that you have put in place the appropriate security bond, as ordered by the court, before you start acting
- Ascertain whether your loved one has sufficient capacity to make or contribute to some decisions, relating to the property and financial affairs
- You may refer to the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice.
As a property and financial affairs deputy, you make (or help your loved one make) decisions about:
- Money, tax and bills
- Bank and building society accounts
- Property and investments
- Pension and benefits.
You can use your loved one’s money to look after their home and buy anything they need day to day (for example, food). You should discuss decisions that affect their living arrangements, medical care or daily routine, with their health and welfare deputy or attorney, if they have one.
Duties and responsibilities
The general day to day management of your loved one’s affairs includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Arranging and maintaining your annual Deputy Security Bond
- Collating information on your loved one’s assets and liabilities
- Preparing and updating a schedule of your loved one’s income and capital expenditure
- Notifying banks, building societies and other appropriate authorities
- Reviewing your loved one’s funds and ensuring the settlement of expenses and liabilities
- Reviewing and updating standing orders and direct debits
- Arranging redirection of post if your loved one is no longer living at their property
- Arranging for, or arranging payment of your loved one’s pensions state benefits or other entitlements
- Liaising with your loved one’s financial advisers over investments, or arranging for an independent financial review
- Corresponding with your loved one’s accountant or tax adviser, as appropriate
- Assisting in finding suitable residential accommodation, or care home, insofar as it relates to finance
- Checking and arranging adequate insurance cover
- Preparing annual accounts to help you complete annual deputy reports for submission to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG)
- Keeping a record of any major decisions you make on your loved one’s behalf to include in your annual report
- Checking your loved one’s Will and ensuring that no steps are taken that might conflict with it. If there is no Will, then you can make a separate application to the Court of Protection for a Statutory Will.
You must keep your loved one’s finances separate to your own, unless you already have something in both of your names like a joint bank account, or you own a home together.
As a deputy, you’ll be supervised by the OPG and they can give you advice and support. New deputies get a “general” level of supervision for their first year. After that, the supervision level may reduce to “minimal” if you’re managing less than £21,000 on behalf of your loved one and you no longer need a “general” level of supervision.
You’ll be required to submit annual deputy reports to the OPG (the OPG will provide you with the form). You’ll pay a lower supervision fee and your annual report will be shorter if you’re under “minimal” supervision.
There is a one-off assessment fee and an annual fee to cover the cost of supervision. These fees are payable from your loved one’s funds, unless they are entitled to a fee exemption or remission.
You may be visited by a Court of Protection visitor to check that you understand your duties, that you have the right level of support from the OPG and that you are carrying out your duties properly.
If you do require any further information regarding this subject please do not hesitate to contact Christine Slidel on 01243 813146 from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, who is a specialist in this area.