What is the Court of Protection?
This is the Court which deals with matters relating to the affairs of people who are not able to handle their own affairs. Typically it deals with cases where elderly people develop dementia or other illnesses affecting mental capacity, which means that the individual is not able to manage their own financial affairs. Other cases involve people who suffer head injury following clinical negligence or road traffic accidents.
Why is the Court needed?
When people cannot make their own decision, then the Court needs to ensure that appropriate decisions are made for these individuals, allowing actions to be taken which are in the best interests of the person concerned.
What if there is a Power of Attorney?
If the individual has signed a Power of Attorney at a time when they were fit and well, then the person appointed as Attorney will be able to make the decision, and usually this will avoid the need for the involvement of the Court of Protection.
An individual might have signed an Enduring Power of Attorney (before 1st October 2007) appointing someone to manage their financial affairs. From the beginning of 1st October 2007 individuals have been able to sign a Lasting Power of Attorney for property and financial affairs (appointing someone to deal with their financial affairs) or for health and welfare (appointing someone to make decisions about health and welfare needs).
What is a Deputy?
A Deputy is someone appointed by the Court of Protection to supervise the affairs of a person who is unable to manage their own affairs. A Deputy might be appointed for finance, which means that that person can manage the financial affairs of the person concerned, subject to supervision from the Office of the Public Guardian. The Court may appoint a Deputy for health and welfare, which means that the Deputy can make health and welfare decisions for such persons in cases where that person cannot make their own decisions. Appointments of Deputy for health and welfare are much less frequent than for financial affairs, but the Court will make such an Order in necessary cases.
Members of the Elderly Client Department at Morrish Solicitors are experienced in handling Court of Protection matters. Tom Morrish has been appointed as Court of Protection Deputy in dozens of case over the last fifteen years or so supervising the financial affairs of elderly persons who have lost their mental capacity, or of persons who have suffered head injuries as a result of an accident or clinical negligence.
Can the Court of Protection be avoided?
In many cases this can be avoided by advance planning. Getting your affairs in order by signing Lasting Powers of Attorney in most cases avoids the need for the Court of Protection, even if later in life you suffer deteriorating health and an inability to manage your affairs.
Contact one of our Elderly Client Team for advice in this area of work. It’s always best to obtain specialist legal advice rather than dabbling on the Internet or obtaining misleading advice or comment from friends who think they know the answer.
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