Illnesses such as dementia, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease can reduce a sufferer's mental capacity so much that they can no longer manage their affairs. In such circumstances, a close relative is often given responsibility for the person's finances and for other duties, such as the administration of an estate or even drawing up their will. This role is referred to as 'Court of Protection Deputyship'.
If you've been asked to take on this role, you may be wondering what's involved. Read on for more information and a brief overview of the duties you would be expected to perform.
Who needs a Deputy?
A person who is deemed to be mentally incapable of making decisions regarding their financial affairs and who has property of assets in excess of $5,000 should have a Deputy. A Deputy is not responsible for assisting the person with their day-to-day living; their role is purely to oversee and manage the finances on behalf of the mentally impaired person.
Who can be a Deputy?
You must be over 18 years of age to be someone's deputy. The Court of Protection will make the final decision on who is suitable to act as a Deputy, but the role usually falls to a close relative or friend of the person.
If you don't feel able to take on the role of Deputy, and there's no-one else in your family to do so, you can appoint a solicitor to take on the Deputy's duties.
What does the Deputy do?
As a Court of Protection Deputy, you will be responsible for managing the finances of the person you are acting for. You will need to pay all their bills for them, and you'll need to submit annual accounts to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) showing how their money has been managed. The OPG's function is to provide support and assistance to the Deputies, as well as ensuring that vulnerable adults' best interests are safeguarded.
If the incapacitated person has not made a will, you may also be called upon to do so on their behalf. In this case, it's important that you work with an experienced family attorney to ensure that all is done correctly.
If a member of your family or a close friend is rendered mentally incapable of managing their financial affairs, you may be called upon to become a Court of Protection Deputy to act on their behalf. For more information and advice on the implications of taking on this role and how to go about it, have a chat with an experienced family law attorney.