Being a deputy or attorney during the coronavirus outbreak

Find out how you can continue to act in the best interests of the client or donor, during the outbreak.

The government has published the ‘COVID-19 Response - Spring 2021’ setting out the roadmap out of the lockdown for England. This explains how restrictions will be eased over time. See specific guidance for Wales.

Some of the rules on what you can and cannot do changed on 29 March. However, many restrictions remain in place. Find out what you can and cannot do.

During the coronavirus outbreak, your role and responsibilities as a deputy or attorney remain the same. However, you must follow government guidance on social distancing and self-isolation.

If you’re not sure about something, or need help making a decision, you can read our guidance on being an attorney or being a deputy.

You may also find it useful to look at the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice and guidance from the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) on mental capacity and the pandemic.

If you do still need to contact us, please bear in mind we are receiving a high number of calls and have fewer staff in the office. It may take us longer than normal to respond to calls and emails.

I cannot visit the person because one of us is self isolating or more at risk

People over 60 or clinically vulnerable could be at higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus. If you have to make a decision but want to talk to the person first, think about how urgent it is and whether it could be delayed. If it is urgent, you could use the phone, a video call or have a care worker pass on the information.

You could also think about decisions and written statements the person has made in the past to see if that can help you make the decision.

I cannot do something for the person because I’m self-isolating or more at risk

If you are self-isolating, or you’re over 60 or clinically vulnerable, you must continue to make decisions for the person. You cannot ask anyone else to make those decisions for you.

However, you can make a decision, then have someone help with any tasks you cannot do yourself. For example, they can go to a shop to buy something or to the bank to deposit a cheque. Some supermarkets have volunteer shopping cards that allow someone to buy groceries and other essentials for another person.

Working with the person’s health or care providers

Being an attorney or deputy does not mean that you can tell a health or care provider they have to use their resources to help the person. This includes resources such as care provision, particular medical equipment or a doctor’s time.

If you’re making a decision about the person’s care or medical treatment and there are different options available, you should choose the one that’s in the person’s best interests.

If the person is due to get medical treatment such as the COVID-19 vaccine, they need to be able to consent to it. If they lack capacity to consent, as attorney or deputy you should make the decision for them if you have the relevant power. The vaccination team should contact you to find out your decision.

When you make a decision you should follow the principles of the Mental Capacity Act. Read our guidance on making decisions for someone else.

DHSC has published guidance on vaccination and mental capacity. The NHS in England has also published a ‘standard operating procedure’ for administering the COVID-19 vaccine in community settings, which includes more detailed advice about mental capacity and vaccination (section 4.5).

Can I stop acting as an attorney or deputy temporarily?

No, you cannot give up your role temporarily.

You do not have to step down just because you cannot visit the person at the moment.

If you’re an attorney, you can permanently step down from (‘disclaim’) your role.

If you’re a deputy, you can apply to the court to permanently end your deputyship.

You should think carefully before doing this, as it may leave the person without the support they need.

Giving money to family or friends

As a property and financial affairs deputy or attorney there are rules you must follow about using the person’s money.

Using the person’s money to give gifts

Read our guidance on gifts. It explains who you can give gifts to and when. It also gives guidance on how much of the person’s money you can spend on gifts.

Remember that loans can count as a gift.

If you want to give a gift that does not fit with the guidance, you must apply to the Court of Protection for permission.

Family care payments

If you’re a deputy and want to use the person’s money to pay family or friends for providing care, you may need to apply to the Court of Protection for permission.

Find out more about ‘Family care payments’.

Published 17 April 2020
Last updated 29 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. changes to welsh version

  2. Changes made due to announcement of roadmap out of lockdown February 2021

  3. Add Welsh translation of the recent English language amendments about vaccinations

  4. Added information about consent and medical treatment such as the COVID-19 vaccination

  5. changes to welsh translation affected by Lockdown 3

  6. Changes due to Lockdown 4

  7. Welsh version edited for updates

  8. amends for local tier restrictions 2/12/20

  9. changes to welsh language version

  10. Changes made due to lockdown 5/11/20

  11. 12 October 2020 lockdown changes

  12. Added Welsh translation and shopping card information

  13. First published.