In the unfortunate event of somebody losing their mental capacity there needs to be somebody to step into that person’s shoes to look after their financial affairs. If somebody does not have sizable assets this can be dealt with by applying to the DWP to become an appointee for the person which will enable the person appointed to deal with any and all state benefits such as the State Pension.
If there are more sizeable assets to deal with such as larger bank accounts or property then unless the person has previously made an Enduring Power of Attorney or a Lasting Power of Attorney then there will need to be an application made by somebody to become what is known as a Deputy.
The process for becoming a Deputy can be costly, lengthy and difficult – which is why the advice is to always consider making lasting Powers of Attorney in good time. What is also true that those costs and difficulties do not stop once the order is actually made.
You will have various roles and responsibilities and the below list is in no way exhaustive and through acting on behalf of professional deputies I know that the framework of the deputyship regime has to be and is indeed built to be flexible given that the lives of the person you are acting for can be complex and prone to dramatic changes of circumstance. Duties will include:-
- Ensuring that you know the person you are acting on behalf of including their families and friends.
- Let all financial institutions know that you have been appointed as a Deputy, ensure that these are official deputyship accounts and that they are totally separate from your own account(s)
- Inform people providing care and the local authority that the Deputyship Order is in place
- Become savvy with the procedural requirements of the Court of Protection and the Office of the Public Guardian such as the necessity to file annual accounts and put in place an annual security bond.
- If you are thinking of making gifts as a Deputy there are very stringent rules and it is always best to seek legal advice even if it seems reasonable
- Take investment advice from a suitable source
- You will need to keep a record of decisions made and where monies are spent as the Office of the Public Guardian have an annual requirement to submit to them detailed accounts and also in these accounts they ask what you have been doing in your role as deputy in the preceding 12 months
As you will see acting as a Deputy can be somewhat of a minefield, if you would like any further information please contact any of our Private Client team in Newcastle or Stockton who will be able to help you through the whole process from the initial application process to the actual day to day duties and responsibilities of being a Deputy.
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