How to change your Deputy (Court of Protection)
If the Court of Protection has appointed a Deputy to act on your behalf, on the grounds that you have lost mental capacity, there may be a need to alter the arrangement. There could be many reasons for this, from a change in the appointed Deputy’s circumstances, to dissatisfaction with the way they are managing your affairs.
So how would you go about changing your Deputy?
What is a Deputy?
A Deputy is a person appointed by the Court of Protection (COP) to act on your behalf if you are judged to have lost the mental capacity to make certain decisions, for instance about your financial affairs.
A Deputy is appointed when the person who has lost capacity has never set up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
In many ways, an Attorney and a Deputy have similar powers and responsibilities, but a Deputy is subject to ongoing scrutiny from the Office of the Public Guardian. Perhaps the biggest difference, however, is that the choice of who to appoint as LPA is entirely yours, whereas a Deputy will be appointed by the Court. While they will try to take into account what your wishes might have been, this is not guaranteed.
Why might you want to change your Deputy?
There are various reasons why it may be necessary to change your Deputy, and this will affect the way you go about it. For example, the person originally appointed may be unable or unwilling to continue in the role. Perhaps their circumstances have changed (e.g. ill health or increased pressure at work).
On the other hand, it can sometimes happen that, after discussion with relatives, friends or professionals, you feel that your Deputy is not acting in your best interests. In extreme circumstances, this could include dishonesty, but it could also be that, for instance, your Deputy appears to be managing your investments inefficiently. It might also be that you are just not happy with them
How you would go about changing your Deputy
Any change in a Deputyship would have to go through the CP and it is advised to use an expert Court of Protection solicitor.
If you are considering replacing a Deputy you or your family are dissatisfied with, it would usually be wise to talk to them about what is going wrong, with an advocate or your solicitor present — or, preferably, both. It may be that they are not aware of your dissatisfaction, or else that they have good reasons for their actions. This could mean that you avoid a lengthy and potentially expensive process.
However, if you are sure that you wish to replace them, it would be wise to have an alternative person to suggest as Deputy. The Court is not obliged to accept your wishes, but they will take them into account. Pick someone you and the people supporting you agree would be both competent and trustworthy, and make sure they would be both willing and able to carry out the role, if asked.
You, the proposed new Deputy or someone acting on your behalf, will then need to apply to the Court of Protection to retire the existing Deputyship and a new one appointed. An expert solicitor will explain and guide you through the process.
In the case of a Deputy who wishes to be replaced, this will be simply a matter of who will replace them. If the request is contested though, the Court will consider the pros and cons of the current Deputy and anyone proposed as a replacement.
If the Court feel that the proposed Deputy is not suitable, then can say that the current Deputy will remain or appoint a Panel Deputy.
If they decide to appoint a new Deputy, the process will be the same as for the original Deputy. The person appointed will have to pay an annual supervision fee, which may be paid from your assets, and will have to put in place a bond to protect against them misusing your money.
What if you no longer need a Deputy?
Unlike an LPA, appointing a Deputy through the Court of Protection is a long, costly process.
Sometimes, a person can regain capacity and therefore no longer needs a Deputy. In this instance an application to restore their finances will be required. In this case, the Court would examine reports about your capacity and come to a decision. If they agree with the application, the Deputyship will be cancelled and not replaced with another.
Help with changing your Deputy
You, or another person acting on your behalf, have a perfect right to apply to change a Deputy who does not seem to be acting in your interests.
If you need to go through this process it is vital to have the help of a solicitor who specialises in this area. We are always happy to help. Speak to our specialist Court of Protection team today on 01525 378177 or contact us online.