Who Can Apply to Become a Deputy in UK
You must be at least 18 years old to apply to become a deputy for another person.
In most cases, deputies will be relatives or close friends of the person needing help to make decisions.
There are extra responsibilities for property and affairs deputies. You must have the skills for making financial decisions on behalf of someone else.
There can be circumstances when there is more than one deputy. That is because a court may decide to appoint two or more deputies responsible the same person.
Having More than One Deputy
When you are not the only deputy you must inform the court, at the time you apply, how you will make decisions. As a rule, decision making for deputies will be (either):
- Joint deputyship: Meaning that all the court-appointed deputies must agree together on any decisions.
- Jointly and severally: Meaning deputies can make decisions on their own (separately) or together along with other deputies.
Specialist Types of Deputy
Certain ‘court-approved professionals‘ get paid to act as people’s deputies. Typical examples include accountants, representatives of the local authority, and solicitors.
The Court of Protection may decide to appoint a panel deputy if no one else is willing or available. It would be a specialist chosen from a list of approved law firms and charity organisations.
Key Responsibilities of a Deputy
Anyone acting as a deputy is responsible for someone who is lacking mental capacity. That means you must help them to make decisions or, in some cases, make decisions on their behalf.
Note: You cannot assume that the person’s mental capacity will be the same at all times (or for everything). So, you must consider their level of mental capacity each time you make a decision on their behalf.
General Guidance for all Deputies
The Court of Protection will send you a court order which states what you can and what you must not do. You can read more on the general rules (with examples) in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice.
As a deputy making a decision for someone who lacks mental capacity, you must:
- Ensure that all decisions get made in the best interests of the other person.
- Consider how they handled similar situations and what they did in the past.
- Apply a high standard of care which may mean involving others. You may need to seek advice from close relatives and other professionals (e.g. a doctor).
- Do whatever is possible to help the other person understand the decision. You could explain what will happen using sign language or pictures, for example.
- Add and record all the decisions made when you complete the annual report.
All deputies must not:
- Physically restrain the person unless the action is to stop them coming to harm.
- End any life-sustaining medical treatment.
- Make a will for the person or change an existing will that they already made.
- Take hold of any money or property in your own name on behalf of the other person.
- Be giving away gifts on behalf of the other person (unless the court order states that you can do so).
- Take advantage of their incapacitated situation (e.g. abuse them or profit from a decision you take on their behalf).
ALSO IN THIS SECTION
How to Become a Deputy | How the Court of Protection authorises deputies in the United Kingdom.
Deputy Application Process | Which forms to use and where to send them if you apply to be a deputy.
Guidance for Property and Affairs Deputies
If you are acting as someone’s property and affairs deputy you will need to make sure:
- You keep your own property and money separate from that of the other person.
- You keep proper records of the finances that you manage for them and add them to your annual report.
In some cases, you will also need to manage a Court Funds Office account on behalf of the other person.
Note: Mistreating or neglecting the person on purpose can result in a fine or a prison sentence for up to 5 years (or both).