You’ve been appointed by the Court of Protection to act as a Deputy for a mentally incapacitated person and you understand what your duties and responsibilities are - but what happens if you feel overwhelmed by these responsibilities?
How will the Office of the Public Guardian support me?
The Office of the Public Guardian oversees the conduct and decisions of Deputies, to ensure they act in the best interests of the person lacking capacity, whilst following certain guidelines. How much support and guidance you receive from the OPG as a Deputy is assessed by the following criteria:
- the complexity of the affairs of the person who lacks capacity;
- the nature of the decisions that need to be made;
- the relationship between the Deputy and the person lacking capacity; and
- the type of care the incapacitated person needs.
Once these have been reviewed the OPG will allocate the level of supervision necessary. There are four levels:
Type 1: close supervision with regular contact between Deputy and the OPG.
Type 2a: an intermediate level of supervision for Deputies dealing with property and affairs, concerned with the monitoring of new Deputies or, where needed, short term interventions.
Type 2: a lighter level of supervision consisting of sample monitoring of cases.
Type 3: periodic supervision for Property and Affairs Deputies managing limited assets.
Your supervision may include:
- Ongoing support provided from the OPG while you carry out your role;
- You sending in reports to the OPG when directed by the OPG to do so;
- Check ups by a Court Visitor to assess how well the Deputyship is being managed.
In all cases, the level of support and supervision provided will be regularly assessed to ascertain whether it is still relevant for you and your circumstances.
Will I need to pay for supervision?
In short, yes. Supervision fees are set by Parliament for OPG supervision. They are individually set for each case depending on the cost of providing support to both the Deputy and the person lacking capacity. Supervision fees are paid out of the assets of the person who lacks capacity and not by the Deputy.
Can I employ professionals to help me?
You are allowed to employ professionals, for example solicitors or financial advisors, to aid you in carrying out your responsibilities as a Deputy, to the best of your ability. Like supervision fees, the fees incurred from hiring professional assistance will be paid from the funds of the person who lacks capacity. Although you may hire help you cannot pay someone to take on your responsibilities as Deputy.
Will I be reimbursed for my expenses?
The Act states that you may be reimbursed for any reasonable expenses you incur whilst carrying out your Deputyship duties. For example, you can claim expenses for telephone calls, travel and postage.
The amount you are allowed to claim and what is deemed reasonable depends on the individual circumstances of each case. It is worth noting that if you claim over £500 per year the OPG may require you to justify your expenses. If your expenses are deemed excessive you may be responsible for repaying them, or in cases of extreme excess, the OPG may apply to the Court to cancel your Deputyship appointment.
It should be noted that expenses cannot be claimed for your time spent acting as a lay Deputy – this is called remuneration and can only be claimed if specifically approved by the Court. If you feel you should receive payment for the time you spend on Deputyship duties you must ask the Court in your initial application to be appointed as the Deputy.
You can find out more about your rights and responsibilities, by referring to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 - Code of Practice, or by contacting our team of Court of Protection specialists – for a free and confidential chat.