Given the authority that a Court of Protection Deputyship order might provide to a deputy, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) produced a deputy standards guide in 2015. The guide outlines what is expected of a deputy. It is important that the guide is considered by all deputies prior to the discharge of their functions, to ensure the efficient undertaking of duties, as expected by the OPG. It is important that the deputy considers the main points, referring to them in the general management of a protected party’s finances, on an on-going basis. These key points can be summarised as follows:-
- Identify, review and secure all welfare benefits the client may be entitled to. It will also include submitting claims and lodging appeals at the earliest opportunity.
- Seek independent financial advice where appropriate. This is to maximise the return of the protected party’s savings, investments and any other assets.
- Carry out reviews of savings and investment portfolios at least once a year. Where necessary the deputy should seek expert and independent advice.
- Demonstrate responsible use of assets, rather than asset preservation.
- Ensure the deputy and all members of staff delegated with deputyship responsibilities have access to appropriate advice and expertise on investments, savings and property.
The above highlights some of the key responsibilities that the deputy needs to consider when managing the financing of the protected party. The guideline also applies to lay deputies and not just professional deputies. If a lay deputy is unsure on their duties they should seek assistance from the OPG, or a professional, at any given time. It should be noted that care needs to be taken when selecting a firm to provide financial advice as many direct discretionary fund managers and other advisors are only able to offer a restricted financial advisory service contrary to the standards outlined by the OPG.
Should a lay deputy require assistance on this specific issue, please contact the Court of Protection team.