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Are you a lay deputy? Important new government guidance issued

Are you a lay deputy? Important new government guidance issued

If you have been appointed to make decisions for someone who has lost the mental capacity to act for themselves, a new set of standards make vital reading.

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has updated its specifications to make them easier to understand and simpler to use.

These stipulations now not only apply to professional deputies, like solicitors and accountants, but crucially, lay deputies too. All will now be held to account against these refreshed requirements.

What is a lay deputy?

A lay deputy is someone appointed by the Court of Protection to help someone who has lost mental capacity with decisions about finances, property and their ongoing health and welfare.

Usually a close relative or friend, they are expected to act in the best interests of the person concerned, with honesty, integrity and transparency at all times.

What does the new guidance say?

Whilst there is no expectation that a lay deputy should be an expert on the law, the guidance asks that all deputies have an understanding of the Mental Capacity Act (2005) and its five principles and how these affect your duties.

It divides the guidance into eight sections:

  • Deputyship obligations – understanding your role including the need for appropriate security, not overstepping your authority and submitting the relevant records to the OPG.
  • Best interest decision making – taking the person you are deputising for into account when making decisions.
  • Interactions with the relevant person – keeping in regular contact and visiting them at least once a year.
  • Financial management – behaving appropriately, meeting tax obligations, managing investments and liabilities.
  • Financial record keeping – keeping records up to date and showing how decisions are reached.
  • Property management – the duty to manage property when buying and selling in line with the deputyship order and in the person’s best interests.
  • Health and welfare decisions – keeping the OPG informed of all decisions including where the person is living and any medical treatment allowed or denied.
  • Additional obligations – for instance, informing the OPG of concerns about other deputies.

You can read the full guidance by clicking here.

Get in touch

Taking on the role of a lay deputy is a big responsibility but should be reasonably straightforward when the financial and property assets are not complicated and other family members and friends are all in agreement.

However, if you need help with more complicated assets or with your reporting obligations, Wards Solicitors highly experienced Court of Protection team can help with all aspects of being a deputy.

This includes everything from the process of applying to be a court deputy, advice to deputies already appointed and in disputes over financial issues, welfare and best interests.

Our expertise is widely recognised in this area of the law.

Not only is our Court of Protection team highlighted for praise in the independent Legal 500 Guide for 2023, Partners Jenny Pierce and Rebecca Parkman are professional panel deputies for property and affairs. This means they can be chosen by the Court of Protection when no-one else is willing or able to act as a deputy for someone who lacks mental capacity.

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