I am often asked if there are occasions when it is a good idea for joint deputies to be appointed. One such occasion is when a family member has received a large compensation award but is unable to manage their own affairs.
The Court is very likely to request that a professional deputy be appointed to make sure that the right advice and decisions are given.
For instance, it is very important that appropriate tax and investment advice is received otherwise significant problems can be encountered further down the road. It may be something as simple as making sure that the necessary tax return is completed. It is often the simple steps that are overlooked.
Nevertheless, it is quite understandable that the family will not wish to feel excluded from the decision making process. Although consultation is enshrined within the Mental Capacity Act, the appointment of a single professional deputy can leave the family feeling vulnerable as to whether they are going to be consulted or not. The professional deputy, at this stage, may not be someone they know particularly well. It is a significant leap of faith, jumping from having no adviser to the appointment of a Court of Protection deputy who completely takes over the management of their loved one’s finances. It could easily lead to the husband or wife or mother or father feeling very vulnerable as all aspects of the family’s finances may be impacted upon by the appointment of a professional deputy.
The solution to this dilemma is a joint appointment. This can work very well. At the very beginning most deputies agree the delegation of tasks. As the professional deputy I am often involved in making sure that the right investment and tax choices are made. This is one area which is very important to get right. There are so many advisers with different qualifications and charging structures that the wrong decision can have a very significant impact on the patient’s award.
At the same time, there are many day to day tasks that the deputy who is a family member is often happy to assist with or run. For instance, there may be day to day purchases which need to be made. I also find there are other areas where family members need to be very closely involved, for instance, where children are involved issues surrounding education and housing adaptations.
The other significant impact of a joint deputyship is that professional deputy costs are often less. If a compensation award has been settled at a discount due to contributory negligence then this can be an important issue.