A professional deputy has been appointed for my elderly relative. What does this mean and what can they do?

If your relative has lost the mental capacity to make their own decisions but does not have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, the Court of Protection can assign a ‘deputy’ to deal with your relative’s affairs.

While this deputyship is usually granted to a family member, if there is no suitable candidate within the family, the court can grant it to a professional, such as a solicitor. The deputy must ensure that any decisions they make are in the best interest of the individual for whom they are acting, and can only make decisions as allowed by the court. The deputy cannot make a will on behalf of the person who lacks capacity, other than by a Court application (called a ‘statutory will’) and they cannot transfer property or large sums of money into their own name.

The appointed deputy will need to make detailed accounts of your relative’s financial affairs, a process that can be extremely time-consuming for your whole family. To avoid the stress and hassle of the involvement of a professional deputy, the best course of action is to seek advice from a specialist solicitor who can help your relative to create a legally robust LPA before the point at which they lose capacity.