Deputyships: appoint a professional to avoid family strife

Kristel Clarke, Watsons Solicitors
July 28, 2021

A leading Cheshire Private Client Solicitor believes appointing a professional to manage an individual’s affairs can be one of the best ways to minimise disagreements at an already stressful time.

Kristel Clarke, a specialist in Private Client work at Warrington-based Watsons Solicitors, says that while deputyships can be administered by trusted family members, often bringing in a recognised professional is the better way to go.

Deputyships are made on behalf of an individual by the Court of Protection, once it is deemed that they no longer have the capacity to decide for themselves, unlike a Lasting Power of Attorney, which an individual can make ahead of time.

While in many cases there is some overlap, such as those with advancing dementia perhaps running out of time to choose an LPA and needing a deputy to be appointed for them, there are also instances where someone might experience a sudden loss of capacity, such as through a traumatic injury.

Kristel says that the stress of having to provide an account for how money is spent, as well as potential for disagreements over who is appointed and what decisions are made, can mean a legal professional is best placed to take on the responsibility.

She said: “Applying for a Deputyship through the Court of Protection can be a lengthy and complicated process.

“There are also restrictions barring those who have been through bankruptcy, financial difficulty or have CCJs.

“Evidence from medical professionals on the loss of mental capacity can be difficult to obtain, particularly during the pandemic when many are much busier, but we’ve built up relationships with individuals who are able to make the necessary time available.

“The Court of Protection will also require you to pay fees, file annual reports and account for every pound. All this means that while a lot of people will want to do their bit, they may need assistance, or even someone to take the responsibility on for them.

In some cases, particularly with younger individuals, the court may choose to appoint a legal professional as their first preference.

Kristel continued: “At Watsons, we have a number of young patients under our care.

“We often associate Deputyships and LPAs with dementia, but there can also be traumatic brain injuries, which often result in large pay-outs to cover lifelong care.

“The individual tasked will then need to manage that, and because of the size of the asset, the Court may appoint a legal professional because there is a risk of abuse.

“It can be a complex and challenging topic, and if anyone would like to understand it more, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.”

Watsons Solicitors, which has been established for more than 60 years, specialises in family law, employment law, wills and probate, personal injury and conveyancing.

The team of experienced solicitors each hold various accreditations and memberships of professional bodies relevant to their expertise, while the firm’s partners oversee all areas of work.

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