If you have the mental capacity to make decisions about your own finances and welfare then you should look to set up a Power of Attorney. If you are looking to make decisions on behalf of a person who lacks capacity, then you may need to apply for Deputyship.
Wherever possible, you should try to set up a Power of Attorney in advance. Deputyship is a more lengthy and expensive process, which can take months to set up and cost thousands of pounds if you use a solicitor. Your powers are also limited by the Court of Protection and you are unlikely to be given the authority to make health and welfare decisions on behalf of the person, only finance.
If you don’t have a Power of Attorney set up and you can’t make decisions alone, the medical and social care professionals looking after you will typically be responsible for making decisions about your health and wellbeing. They should talk to the people who know you best, but they’ll have the final say.
However, if a decision needs to be made about your finances, then it is likely that a person will need to apply for Deputyship powers in order to act on your behalf. This involves making an application to the Court of Protection. A deputyship application can take several months and be a lot more expensive than putting a Power of Attorney in place, with costs starting from around £800, increasing to thousands of pounds if you use a legal professional. There is some variation in setting up Deputyship across the UK, see further information below on the process in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
If you have lost mental capacity but your income is limited to state benefits, including the State Pension, then an alternative to Deputyship is Appointeeship. This is where someone acting on your behalf can have your benefits paid to them so that they can spend this on your behalf. Appointeeship is free to set up and is arranged by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The DWP will meet with you to check you need support to manage your benefits, then they’ll interview your Appointee to make sure they’re the right person to help you. Appointeeship would not be suitable if a person needed access to your savings or was required to make a decision about selling any property.
Deputyship in England and Wales
To become a Deputy for you, a person needs to know you well, show they’re trustworthy and be able to take on the responsibility.
In England and Wales, applying for Deputy powers without the help of a solicitor costs £371, plus a £100 fee for the assessment. You’ll also need to pay an annual supervision fee of either £320 or £35, which could mean an up-front cost of £791.
You can apply to become a Deputy online.
Deputyship in all nations
Often, these powers are given to close family members, like partners or adult children. But they can also be given to wider family and trusted friends who know you well.
If someone needs to make an urgent financial decision for you, they can apply for an interim court order to give them permission to do something specific. This could include getting permission to use money in your account to pay for care costs.
Deputyship in Scotland
The equivalent to Deputy powers is called Guardianship.
In Scotland fees begin from around £200 with ongoing administrative costs.
You can read more about how to apply on the Public Guardian Scotland website.
Deputyship in Northern Ireland
The equivalent to Deputy Powers is called Controllership.
In Northern Ireland fees begin from around £400 with ongoing administrative costs.
You can read more about how to apply on The Office of Care and Protection website.
Power of Attorney
Planning ahead at an early stage helps avoid decisions being made in a crisis. If you have family or close friends that you’d like to be involved in decisions about your health and finances, then you could consider setting up a Power of Attorney.
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