Deputies can make decisions for people who lack mental capacity. This section explains how to become a deputy and function with Court of Protection authorisation.
Having 'mental capacity' means you are able to make any major decisions about your own financial affairs and welfare.
As a rule, people lacking mental capacity will be unable to make important decisions about their own welfare or finances.
There are several common reasons why some people might lack mental capacity, including things like:
But, you can apply to the Court of Protection to become someone's deputy. The COP authorises deputies to make decisions on behalf of others at the time the issues need resolving.
Even so, some people will be able to make decisions for themselves at certain other times in the future (e.g. after a recovery from illness).
This kind of deputy can manage the property and the financial affairs of an adult deemed mentally incapable of doing so themselves. For example, the role would include paying their bills and organising their pension.
Among other things, personal welfare deputies make decisions about medical treatment. For example, they would get to decide how someone is taken care of.
In most cases, the Court of Protection would only appoint someone as a personal welfare deputy if:
Note: The person must be at least 16 for you to become their personal welfare deputy. The Court of Protection: personal welfare application (COP GN4) has further guidance or you can get legal advice.
You can apply to be a property and financial affairs deputy or a personal welfare deputy (or both). You will receive a court order if you get appointed. The order explains your responsibilities as someone's deputy (see below).
You must complete an annual report and send it to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). The purpose of the yearly report is to explain what decisions you made.
You can check whether you meet the requirements to become a deputy. The next step is to send the application forms to the Court of Protection and pay the application fee (see below).
Note: You do not always need to be a deputy to make decisions for another person. You can apply to become an appointee for someone claiming benefits, for example.
The Court of Protection will make several checks on your application to become a deputy, such as:
Being appointed as a deputy would get you extra help, support, and visits from the Office of the Public Guardian. The OPG will help you to fulfill your responsibilities until the court order changes, gets cancelled, or expires.
It is not always necessary to be a deputy to help out in the running of someone else's affairs. You can apply to the Court of Protection for a one off order to make a single important decision.
Note: The person may already have a lasting power of attorney or an enduring power of attorney acting on their behalf. So, you may need to find out if someone has an attorney (LPA or EPA) before you apply.
The court has some restrictions on who it appoints as deputies. Check the key responsibilities of a deputy and the penalties for mistreatment or neglect.
There are strict rules for court-appointed deputies on accounts, gifts, and expenses. Check the regulations for a deputy to buy gifts or make charitable donations.
You will need to complete an annual report as a court-appointed deputy. Further information lists what you need to include and how professional deputies submit their reports.
Check which forms to use and where to send them when you apply to be a deputy for someone. Find out who you need to tell and how to 'serve notice' (confirm you told the right people).
There is a supervision fee and a security bond to pay if you apply to become a deputy. Check to see whether you qualify for help with the application and supervision fees.
You may need to tell the person about the court hearing once you have applied. Check what happens after being appointed as a deputy and how to tell other people and organisations.
There are several means of supervision and support for deputies, often through home visits. Find out how you get supervised and how to contact Office of the Public Guardian.
You must follow the set process to change your deputyship or make a one-off decision. Find out how to apply to the court and what happens afterward.
As a general rule, there needs to be a valid reason for someone to end a deputyship. Check which forms you need to use and what to do if the person you are acting as deputy for dies.
Become a Deputy UK: Make Decisions for Someone Who Lacks Capacity