Make sure you know the rules
The role of a deputy is similar to that of an attorney. If you are acting as an attorney, this will be because the person you are acting for specifically chose you to act and they made a document called a ‘power of attorney’ at a time when they had capacity to do so.
A deputy on the other hand, is someone who has had to apply to the Court of Protection to act on behalf of someone who no longer has capacity. The Court of Protection takes the appointment of deputies extremely seriously, as it is important to ensure that the person applying to act is suitable, despite not being someone who has been specifically chosen for the role.
A key way in which a deputy is held to a higher level of accountability than an attorney is by way of financial reporting.
If you are a financial deputy for someone, you will need to report annually to the Office of the Public Guardian.
This reporting includes providing a thorough and accurate account of all monies received and spent, as well as an explanation of any decisions you have made. To ensure compliance with the reporting duties, it is vital that you retain copies of all statements, receipts, invoices, and other such paperwork throughout the year. For reporting terms, the year begins on the date on which you are appointed rather than at the beginning of the calendar year or tax year.
What you should report and what evidence needs to be sent
The reporting documents include details of all assets and liabilities of the person for whom you are appointed as deputy, as well as the income and expenditure throughout the year. This should include any state benefits, any interest or other income payments from investments, as well as any other income received on behalf of the person for whom you are acting. Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) letters, bank statements, and investment statements should be collated to offer as proof of income.
Expenditure may include such items as care costs, living expenses, food and drink, activities, and ad hoc purchases. Acceptable deputy expenses, for example travel costs, may also be claimed, provided sufficient proof is supplied. Again, receipts and other supporting documents should be collated throughout the year to be submitted with the report.
In addition to financial information, you will need to state in the report what decisions you have made on the person’s behalf and explain your reasons for having made those decisions. You are also required to confirm whether anyone else was involved in the decision-making process and, if so, who they are and what involvement they had.
How to approach financial reporting
Whilst the report is only made at the end of each deputy year, it is advisable to collect paperwork throughout the year and collate this into a thorough record. That way, when it comes to preparing the report, all the information you require is readily to hand.
Keeping clear records throughout the year will make end of year reporting quicker and easier. The records you keep should include any contact you had with the person, any contact the person had with others (such as care providers or other decision makers), all decisions made on the person’s behalf and why those decisions were made, all money spent and received.
At the end of the deputy year, the report is due within two months. You should begin working on the report as soon as all the relevant information is available, and you should aim to submit the report within the first month. Leaving it to the last minute could result in discovering too late that you are missing certain details, which could then make the report unnecessarily late and make you seem unreliable.
If the two months are close to expiring and, despite all your best efforts, you still have not received all the information you need, make sure that you apply to the Office of the Public Guardian for an extension. You will need to explain the reasons for your request and when you anticipate being in a position to finalise and submit the report. Do not simply fail to submit the report in time without first requesting an extension, as the Office of the Public Guardian will not look favourably upon this.
How we can help
If you are at all unsure about your reporting duties or the details you should be including, seek help from our solicitors. We are familiar with the format of the deputy reports and we can help ensure your report is accurate and the rules are correctly followed, either by checking this for you or completing the report on your behalf.
If you are acting as a deputy and you are concerned about any other aspect of the role, or you feel you can no longer manage, our solicitors can offer you impartial and expert advice. Whilst you cannot delegate or transfer your duties as a deputy, we can assist you by offering support and advice with regard to any decisions you must make.
The role of a deputy is a serious one that attracts strict requirements. Professional legal advice will help you ensure that you are aware of the legalities and that you report correctly and fully. Our solicitors can help you to be sure you have covered all the information required.
For further information, please contact Paddy Appleton in the Wills, Trusts and Probate team on 01832 273506 or email [email protected].
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