Deputies: make decisions for someone who lacks capacity

1. Overview

You can apply to become someone’s deputy if they ‘lack mental capacity’. This means they can’t make a decision for themselves at the time it needs to be made. They may still be able to make decisions for themselves at certain times.

People may lack mental capacity because, for example:

  • they’ve had a serious brain injury or illness
  • they have dementia
  • they have severe learning disabilities

As a deputy, you’ll be authorised by the Court of Protection to make decisions on their behalf.

Types of deputy

There are 2 types of deputy.

Property and financial affairs deputy

You’ll do things like pay the person’s bills or organise their pension.

Personal welfare deputy

You’ll make decisions about medical treatment and how someone is looked after.

You can’t become someone’s personal welfare deputy if they’re under 16. Get legal advice if you think the court needs to make a decision about their care.

The court will usually only appoint a personal welfare deputy if:

  • there’s doubt whether decisions will be made in someone’s best interests, for example because the family disagree about care
  • someone needs to be appointed to make decisions about a specific issue over time, for example where someone will live

Read the full guidance about when you need to make a personal welfare application.

Becoming a deputy

You can apply to be just one type of deputy or both. If you’re appointed, you’ll get a court order saying what you can and can’t do.

When you become a deputy, you must send an annual report to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) each year explaining the decisions you’ve made.

How to apply

Check you meet the requirements to be a deputy.

Send the application forms to the Court of Protection and pay the application fee.

You don’t need to be a deputy if you’re just looking after someone’s benefits. Apply to become an appointee instead.

Checks on your application

The Court of Protection will check:

If you’re appointed, the Office of the Public Guardian will help you carry out your responsibilities.

You’ll continue to be a deputy until your court order is changed, cancelled or expires.

Other ways to make decisions for someone

If you want to make a single important decision, you can apply to the Court of Protection for a one-off order.

If the person already has a lasting power of attorney (LPA) or enduring power of attorney (EPA), they don’t usually need a deputy. Check if they have an LPA or EPA before you apply.