If someone is mentally incapable of making a particular decision at a particular time, and they haven’t made a lasting power of attorney, and the decision isn’t one that can be made on an informal basis, the matter can be referred to the Court of Protection. The court may either choose to make the decision itself on the person’s behalf, or choose someone else, known as a ‘deputy’, to make the decision for them.
Where the court appoints a deputy to manage someone’s property and financial affairs on an ongoing basis, the deputy usually has to keep accounts, enter into a security bond, and report to the Office of the Public Guardian. The Court of Protection charges an application fee, unless you are exempt due to low income and the Office of the Public Guardian charges a yearly fee to cover the cost of supervising the deputy’s work.
If a person is incapacitated and entitled to receive a retirement pension or other state benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions can choose an ‘appointee’ to receive those benefits on that person’s behalf. The appointee can be a relative, friend or someone from the caring professions (such as the local authority social services department). They will be asked to produce some proof that the claimant is incapacitated, such as a doctor’s certificate. There is no fee involved in this service.
Other financial matters
We can advise on a wide range of other legal matters affecting elderly people. For example:
- equity-release schemes, where you can unlock some of the capital tied up in your home;
- funding arrangements for long-term care;
- estate planning by making a will or lifetime gifts; or
- where you suspect that an elderly person may be the victim of financial abuse.