A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint someone (the ‘attorney’) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf.
There are two types of LPAs: property and financial affairs and health and welfare.
Once the LPAs are registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) they can be used by your attorney. They can either be used immediately, with your consent and/or they can be used in the future if you lose ‘mental capacity’ and are unable to make or understand decisions yourself. This could be because you have had an accident or have been diagnosed with dementia.
If it has been determined that you have lost ‘mental capacity’ and you do not have a registered LPA in place, there is nobody authorised to deal with your affairs. In these circumstances, you would not be able to make an LPA. Therefore, if someone wants (or needs) to make decisions on your behalf they would need to apply to the Court of Protection for a deputyship order to be appointed as your deputy.
There are two types of deputyship applications: property and financial affairs and personal welfare. However, personal welfare applications are only approved by the Court in very rare circumstances, so the majority of the deputyship orders are for property and financial affairs.
In a deputyship application, the Court of Protection will consider whether the application is appropriate and whether the person applying to be appointed a deputy is suitable. Anyone can be considered as a deputy, even social services or a lawyer and up to four people can be appointed. The deputyship application also includes a medical assessment and detailed information about your financial assets.
Although the Court of Protection handles all of the deputyship applications, straightforward matters are dealt with by a postal application but if the matter is complex or contentious, a court hearing may be required.
Being a deputy is an important responsibility and a deputy is required to submit annual reports to the OPG. However, an OPG case manager will be appointed to help the deputy understand the role and their duties.
If you need any help or advice to put in place an LPA or to make a deputyship order, contact one of our lawyers in the Wills and Probate Team.