Do you have a relative or friend that no longer has the capacity to make sound decisions for themselves? Then you may be familiar with The Court of Protection.
What is the Court of Protection?
In English law, the Court of Protection is a superior court of record created under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The Court’s origins date all the way back to the 14th century, first becoming known as the Court of Protection in 1947. It is responsible for overseeing the management of property, financial affairs and personal welfare of people that do not have the mental capacity to handle these matters themselves. This can be for any number of reasons such as old age, injury, dementia, disability or a learning difficulty.
The Court of Protection has the power to decide whether a person is unfit to take care of their own personal welfare – their living situation, who they see and how they are cared for – and financial affairs and determine what the best course of action is to take.
Registration of enduring power of attorney, appointing trustees and making statutory wills are some of the other responsibilities of the Court of Protection.
Appointment of a deputy
A deputy can be appointed to make these decisions on their behalf. This can be a family member, friend or professional that has the right skills, the mental capacity to be your deputy and is 18 years of age or older. However, if there is no one willing or able, a dedicated Court of Protection lawyer can be appointed as deputy to safeguard and protect these interests. The Court usually appoints a deputy if an attorney under a lasting power of attorney has not been appointed by you and a series of decisions has to be made.
Recently there was some criticism of the Court of Protection in connection with the interest rate on funds held with the Court Funds Office being very low. However, it is not a requirement for the funds to be left in Court. They can be withdrawn and invested elsewhere with a better interest rate. This is the responsibility of the appointed deputy.
Perhaps this is just a case of a misunderstanding and the conflict arose out of deputies not realising the wide scope of their role. Or possibly not having had experience in dealing with these matters. Whatever the case, there’s no doubt that these situations can be confusing to deal with. These are sensitive situations and shouldering this heavy responsibility of a family member or dependent can feel overwhelming.
The above outlines the importance of seeking specialist legal advice for support in making the best decisions for you and your family.
Are you wondering whether to apply to the Court of Protection? Or whether you are eligible to apply? Or perhaps going through a lengthy application process to be able to handle a loved ones personal welfare and financial affairs for them? Please feel free to get in touch with us for support in these and other related areas.
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