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Published On: April 7, 2021 | Blog | 0 comments

Supervision of Deputies: The role of the Office of the Public Guardian

Under a Deputyship Order, Property and Financial Affairs Deputies are given a number of powers and responsibilities, ranging from managing any assets or income, to buying and selling property on behalf of the Protected Party. As such, it is vital that there is sufficient oversight of Deputies to ensure that decisions made on behalf of incapacitated individuals have been undertaken in accordance with due process, and within the remit of any constraints placed upon the Deputy within the order.  It is also important to ensure that an incapacitated person is continuously safeguarded from exploitation, and that there is a level of oversight for Deputies who undertake important fiduciary functions. The supervision of Deputies is carried out by the Office of the Public Guardian (‘OPG’).

Whether the appointed Deputy is a Professional or a lay individual, it is legal requirement that they report to the OPG on an annual basis, explaining the decisions they have made and accounting for all the money they have spent. The OPG require Deputies to complete a detailed account every year, which is usually due for submission shortly after the 12-month anniversary of the date of the Deputyship Order.

The accounting process is a rigorous one, where the Deputy must detail all significant decisions made over the course of the year, as well as all income received, and payments made, together with a bank account reconciliation that verifies the accuracy of the figures. This will include investment income and tax payments, that will need to be accounted for by the Deputy, during the relevant financial year. The process can be quite a complex exercise which is why a lot of lay Deputies seek guidance from a professional.

Aside from the financial verifications, the report also encompasses some of the Deputy’s other duties, including ensuring that Protected Parties obtain their full benefits and entitlements. This may include the provision of local authority or NHS funded care, which is a particularly complicated area of law in of itself. Further, the OPG has a statutory duty to ensure that all protected parties, whether they be vulnerable children or adults, are safeguarded from abuse or neglect due to the actions or inactions of others. Accordingly, the report includes a section that allows the Deputy to summarise their contact with the client and the client’s care arrangements, to ensure that the Protected Party’s needs have been adequately met.

The OPG can decide to send ‘special or general visitors’ to visit a Deputy and/or the incapacitated person, to talk about the management of the fund and inspect additional records. This can be undertaken by way of routine visit, or if there are any areas of concern raised by the Deputy or the Patient, to the OPG directly during the course of the Deputyship appointment.   The OPG visitor will prepare an independent report following an assurance visit, and there are certain rules pertaining to the disclosure of those reports; including disclosure of the report to the police, during the course of a criminal investigation.

If you have any questions about the OPG’s role in the context of Deputyships or require any advice on the annual report itself, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0207 940 4000.

*Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*

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