What is the difference between a Deputy and an Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney and Court of Protection Deputy are individuals who have been legally appointed to deal with the affairs of a person who lacks mental capacity. An Attorney and a Court Deputy can both make decisions about financial or health matters on a person’s behalf.
However, whilst their responsibilities are similar, the way they are appointed is very different.
Lasting Power of Attorney (Attorney)
A Lasting Power of Attorney is set up before the person loses capacity. The Attorney is carefully chosen by an individual to act on their behalf. Also, under the terms of the LPA, the individual can decide what the Attorney is able to do should they lose capacity.
However, an LPA cannot be set up after a person loses mental capacity. Assuming the Capacity Report confirms incapacity, an application must be made to the Court of Protection to appoint a Deputy to handle matters on their behalf.
Court of Protection Deputy (Court Deputy or Deputy)
Initially, the application to become a Deputy is considered by a judge in the Court of Protection (now known as the Office of The Public Guardian). A Deputy can be a friend, relative or professional person (such as solicitor or accountant), but they must be over 18. But, be aware, this process can take as much as 6 months as the Court is obliged to notify family members when an application is made.
Naturally, becoming a Deputy is a serious undertaking. Depending on the circumstances, the role might continue for a long time. Then there are several specific tasks and responsibilities to consider, including completing fairly complex annual returns.
There’s a lot of support and guidance available from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) so make sure you check out their online resources.
In the meantime, we’ve put together a short guide “Your Responsibilities as a Court of Protection Deputy” which explains what’s involved.
However, if you need to talk to someone urgently or you have any legal queries, please get in touch. We’re here to help.
Please note that all views, comments or opinions expressed are for information only and do not constitute and should not be interpreted as being comprehensive or as giving legal advice. No one should seek to rely or act upon, or refrain from acting upon, the views, comments or opinions expressed herein without first obtaining specialist, professional or independent advice. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, Curtis Parkinson cannot be held liable for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies.