When family members disagree about who should look after the finances of their vulnerable relative, the court may be more inclined to appoint a professional to act as a deputy, as a recent Court of Protection case shows.
The case of Re RP involved an 83 year old man who had suffered a stroke in 2007 and was subsequently diagnosed with dementia in 2014.
He had been married three times and had 5 children. His daughter from his second marriage made an application to the Court of Protection for a solicitor to be appointed as her father’s deputy.
The Court of Protection deals with cases involving people who no longer have capacity to make significant decisions themselves. If a person is no longer able to manage their own finances, a court may appoint a deputy to act on their behalf. The deputy is then able to make all financial decisions for them; in their best interests.
The daughter in this case had concerns that her father was vulnerable and may be exploited. His finances had been managed on an informal basis by RP’s eldest son.
Her application was opposed by her step-siblings; the children from RP’s first marriage. His eldest son wanted to be appointed as a deputy himself and made a number of allegations about his step-sister.
Senior Judge Lush, who has a wealth of experience of family disputes in the Court of Protection called his allegations ‘totally unwarranted character assassination’ because the applicant daughter wasn’t trying to be appointed as a deputy herself. The judge granted the daughter’s application and appointed a solicitor as RP’s deputy. He thought that given the tension between the siblings, it would be in RP’s best interests for a professional to do the job.
Helen Dandridge, solicitor in the Court of Protection team at Ridley & Hall, commented, “Professional deputies, unlike lay deputies can charge for their work. Their charges are paid out of the protected party’s estate, so there is an obvious cost benefit to that person for a relative or close friend to be appointed. However, in cases where family members cannot get along, often the only realistic option for the court is to appoint a professional.”
There may be many occasions when people are suspicious of their relatives’ motives in applying to become a deputy. If you object to someone being appointed as a deputy to manage a person’s property and affairs, you should seek specialist legal advice before opposing an application. If the court believes your opposition is without merit you could be at risk of having to pay the other parties’ legal costs.
Alternatively, you may have made an application to be appointed a deputy and someone opposes your application. Ridley & Hall’s specialist Court of Protection team can advise you appropriately and represent you at any court hearing.
Legal aid is unfortunately not available for disputes about financial issues, but may be available for other cases.
Contact us today on 01484 538421 for a free initial consultation.