If someone lacks mental capacity, it's possible to apply to become their deputy. Deputies are authorised by the Court of Protection to make decisions on someone's behalf.

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What is a deputy?

Deputies manage the affairs of people who lack mental capacity. Under the Mental Capacity Act, lacking mental capacity means that someone is unable to make a decision for themselves due to an impairment of the brain, either temporarily or permanently. There are two types of deputy:

  • Property and financial affairs deputy - they handle practical matters such as paying bills and managing pensions
  • Personal welfare deputy - they make decisions about medical treatment and care arrangements

What is the difference between attorneys under LPAs and deputies?

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) allow the appointment of an 'attorney' to help an individual manage their affairs in case they lose their mental capacity in the future. They also fall into two similar categories: LPAs for health and care decisions and LPAs for financial decisions. Attorneys under LPAs can only be appointed while the individual has mental capacity.

Deputies are not appointed by the individual lacking mental capacity. Instead, they are appointed by the Court of Protection in the situation that an individual has already lost their mental capacity and did not make a relevant LPA.

What are the responsibilities of a deputy?

Deputies are responsible for either the property and financial affairs of the individual, or their personal welfare, depending on the type of deputyship. They are responsible for making decisions on behalf of the individual lacking mental capacity - or helping them to make a decision - taking into account the level of their mental capacity at the time. They must always ensure that all decisions are in the best interests of the individual.

Who can apply to be a deputy?

Deputies are normally close relatives or friends of the individual. Deputies must be 18 or over - and there can be more than one deputy. They need to apply to the Court of Protection and pay relevant fees.

Read guidance from for the application process and fees.

What happens following application?

There is a 14 day wait following following submission of an application to become a deputy to allow any relevant parties to object. The Court of Protection will then approve or reject the application and possibly hold a hearing if further information is required or if there is an objection.

If the application is successful, the newly appointed deputy will be sent a 'court order'; this allows a personal welfare deputy to start acting on behalf of the individual straight away. However a property and financial affairs deputy will need to pay a security bond first.

What are the rules around accounts, gifts and expenses?

Comprehensive accounts must be kept by property and financial affairs deputies (eg bank statements, receipts etc).

Certain expenses can be claimed for duties carried out in the course of being a deputy. However a detailed report must be kept and the Office of the Public Guardian may ask for a repayment in the case of any expenses which are deemed unreasonable.

The ability to buy gifts or give gifts of money on behalf of the individual (eg donations to charities) will be detailed in the court order. All gifts must be reasonable.

How are deputies supervised and what is the annual report?

Deputies are supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). This may occasionally include supervision visits.

Deputies must write a report each year which explains any decisions they have made as a deputy. The annual report can be submitted online.

How can deputyship be changed or ended?

In order to renew, change or end a deputyship, an application must be submitted to the Court of Protection.

Read changing a deputyship or ending it for further information.

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