Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Becoming a Deputy - A Big Decision

Could You become a Deputy?

Any decision to become a deputy for a relative, who has lost capacity, shouldn't be taken lightly. You will be taking on serious responsibilities and commitments and you won't be entitled to be paid for their role as deputy, unless the order provides for this (You can recover reasonable out of pocket expenses, usually no more than £500 per year).
If you make an application to become a deputy for a relative, the Court of Protection will decide whether you are suitable. The factors that enable a decision to be made include whether you are reliable, trustworthy and have the appropriate level of skill and competence to make financial decisions on behalf of the person.
If you are thinking about making an application, you should consider the following:-
1. Deputyship can last for a number of years. If the order is made for an indefinite period, it is likely to continue until the death of your relative or until their capital resources run out. Are you able to make such an open ended commitment?
2. Are you good with money? It seems obvious, but If you have difficulty managing your own finances, you may have difficulty managing the finances of another person.
3. Your decisions must be made in your relative’s best interests, rather than what you think is best for them, or what is in your best interests.
4. You need to involve your relative in the decision making, in so far as they are able to participate.
5. You need to be aware of the limits of any deputyship order, particularly if you are thinking of making gifts. If your relative suffers any loss, as a result of your unauthorised actions, or you exceed the powers given to you, or you make unauthorised gifts, you can be personally liable for any losses incurred.
6. You will need to keep financial records and produce an annual report to the Office of the Public Guardian.
7. You must not benefit from the decisions you make, without the authority of the Court’s.
8. It is extremely important that you keep your relative’s finances separate from your own. This means that savings, investments and property should be held on behalf of your relative, and not in your own name. This is important for tax and inheritance purposes.
9. You should seek independent investment advice, from a suitably qualified advisor. This is to ensure that any investments made are suitable and diversified. You must undertake regular reviews, to ensure that investments are still appropriate.
10. You will also be required to seek tax, benefits and estate planning advice, where it is required. You will also need to budget for them and make regular and one off payments, on their behalf.
If you require assistance in applying to become a deputy yourself, we can advise you on the correct procedure and help you with drafting the relevant documents 

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