Every person is presumed to have mental capacity to manage their own affairs unless there is evidence to prove that they are unable to do so. It is common, after a brain injury for instance, for a person to lose the mental capacity to manage their money and their property. Sometimes the loss is temporary, sometimes permanent.
When a person lacks the mental capacity to manage their own financial affairs, a person needs to be appointed to step into their shoes and administer affairs on their behalf. The Deputy’s role is to act in the best interests of the person they are acting for and to include that person, as far as is possible, in the decision-making process.
If the person who lacks capacity had previously made a Power of Attorney, then the Attorney can take charge. However, if there is no Power of Attorney in place, then a Deputy is appointed by the Court of Protection.
If the person’s situation is not particularly complex or the amount of money to administer is relatively small, the Court of Protection may agree to appoint a lay deputy to manage a person’s finances.
Where there is a large sum of money awarded to a person by way of a personal injury claim, there is often a need for a professional deputy and the personal injury compensation will usually include money for the ongoing annual deputy costs for the remainder of that person’s life if they are deemed unlikely to regain capacity.
The role of the Deputy can be complex where a person has had a catastrophic injury and often involves not only administering the day to day bills, contact with banks and other institutions, but also the direct employment of care staff ensuring that all legal obligations for employment and training of staff are met, purchasing and/or adapting housing, investing funds, budgeting for all future needs, applying for welfare benefits, preparing tax returns and producing end of year reports for the Office of the Public Guardian. In such complex situations, it is often the case that a solicitor is appointed by the Court of Protection to act as the Deputy.
Barbara Woodbridge has been acting as Deputy for clients since 2011.