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Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) are extremely useful documents. They enable you to appoint persons as attorneys who act on your behalf should you become mentally or physically unable to administer your finances or be mentally incapable of making personal welfare decisions. They are also useful if you do not want to deal with your finances any more as you can delegate such matters to your attorney.
If there is no LPA in place, and you lose mental capacity, then no one, not even your spouse, has authority to deal with your financial affairs on your behalf. The only option then available to your family or friends is for one or more of them to make an application to the Court of Protection for the appointment of a deputy.
A deputy can be appointed for property and affairs decisions but it is highly unlikely that the Court of Protection will appoint a Deputy for personal welfare decisions.
Anyone can apply to be a deputy. This may mean that the person looking after your affairs or making personal welfare decisions is not the person you would have chosen yourself.
The application to be appointed as a Deputy can take anything from three to six months, depending on the circumstances. Even extremely urgent applications are taking around six weeks to be considered and dealt with. A deputyship application can only be made if someone has lost mental capacity so if a person is suffering from early stage dementia then they should prepare and register LPAs for property and finance and personal welfare. instead.
The proposed deputy has no authority to act for the incapable person until the order is issued by the court.
Court involvement is more onerous for Deputies. A Deputy has to provide annual reports/accounts to the court and confirm what and why key decisions were made during each financial year. The court can also send a court visitor to meet with the Deputy and the incapable person to ensure the Deputy is carrying out correctly their role and responsibilities.
The court fees for making a deputyship application far exceed the court costs of registering an LPA and it is likely that the professional fees for preparing and registering an LPA are less expensive than those involved with a deputyship application. The initial court fee for a deputy application is £400, whereas it costs £110 to register an LPA. A deputy is also required to take out an insurance bond. The premiums for such bond depend on the value of the assets they will be dealing with. This is payable annually out of your assets. There are also ongoing costs with a deputyship. Deputies are subject to supervisions at different levels with lower rate charges of £175 per year up to the higher rate of £800 per year.
Please contact a member of our private client team to discuss deputyships and a Lasting Power of Attorney.