The Court of Protection exists to safeguard vulnerable people who may lack capacity to make decisions. In such cases the Court has the power to make decisions relating to property and financial affairs, healthcare and personal welfare. The Court also has the power to make declarations about whether someone has the capacity to make a specific decision.
Ideally we should all plan ahead and make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This ensures that if you are no longer able to manage your own financial affairs or perhaps no longer have sufficient capacity to make decisions for yourself, you know that you will be looked after by someone chosen by you and in whom you trust.
There are two types of LPA, one dealing specifically with your property and financial affairs and the other dealing with your health and welfare (for use regarding medical treatment and perhaps making decisions as to where you should live).
However in the unfortunate event that mental capacity is lost without your having made a Lasting Power of Attorney, or if the Court has to determine a specific matter, it may then be necessary for a family member or a friend to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed to act as your Deputy. Once appointed the Deputy would then be authorised by the Court to manage your affairs and make certain decisions on your behalf.
The Court of Protection application process is both costly and time consuming. Once in place, the Deputyship incurs continuing annual charges and supervision. In the event that there is no suitable family or friend to apply to be a Deputy, the role may well fall to social services or a panel deputy.
WGS Solicitors can advise you on all of these issues.
The lesson to be learned is be prepared and plan ahead …