Appointing a Professional Deputy
Due to our ageing society, more and more people are becoming unable to manage their property and financial affairs whether it be because they have dementia, have had a stroke or suffered a brain injury. In these circumstances, it is imperative that someone else has the authority to manage their property and financial affairs.
When planning for the future, it is common that people make a Lasting Power of Attorney which enables a trusted person to make these decisions on their behalf when they can no longer do so. But what can you do if you find that a loved one does not have capacity to make their own decisions and there is no Lasting Power of Attorney in place?
The Court of Protection exists in England and Wales to protect the interests of vulnerable people who can no longer make decisions for themselves. Applications can be made to the Court of Protection for family members, friends, interested parties or professionals to be appointed as a Deputy to look after the property and financial affairs of such people.
It is, almost always, preferable for a family member or close friend to act as the Deputy but sometimes, circumstances will not allow for that or it may simply be easier for a professional to be appointed as the Deputy. The most common reasons why Professional Deputies are appointed are as follows:
- Knowledge - Professional Deputies, such as solicitors, have the requisite legal knowledge to act as the Deputy. They are familiar with the application process and the on-going legal requirements of being a Professional Deputy. They are used to handling other people's finances on a day-to-day basis, keeping records and completing and submitting the required reports to the Office of the Public Guardian.
- Experience - Professional Deputies act as Deputies on a number of matters and therefore regularly come across a variety of situations and will know how to handle them. They conduct themselves in a sensitive way whilst acting in the best interests of the person who has lost capacity.
- Independence - Professional Deputies have no emotional or financial ties to the person who has lost capacity and will only ever act in their best interests. Sometimes, if there is a dispute between family members and they simply cannot get on or agree to one of them being the Deputy, it is best to appoint an independent Professional Deputy.
- Regulated - Professional Deputies who are regulated such as solicitors also have the regulations of their profession to abide by, which creates another level of protection for the person who has lost capacity as their money cannot be misused.
- Reliable - Sometimes, in rare cases, a person who can no longer make decisions for themselves, does not have close family members or good friends and there is no one else to act, apart from a Professional Deputy.
Most importantly, in the majority of cases, the focus should be on the person who has lost capacity and the natural candidates to be the Deputy can be too busy caring for the person that has lost capacity and may not have the time or expertise to be the Deputy and do not need the added stress of being the Deputy, so it is probably best to appoint a Professional Deputy to handle that side of things.
At Band Hatton Button LLP, we offer a Professional Deputyship service. One of our Partners can be appointed as the Professional Deputy, supported by one of the qualified lawyers in the Wills, Trusts and Probate Team who would carry out the day to day tasks on the file under the direct supervision of the Professional Deputy.
For individual advice and assistance contact our Wills, Probate and Trusts Team to find out how we can help.
Christina Polychronakis TEP, Associate, Wills, Trusts and Probate Team
Direct Tel: 024 7601 6438