Removal of Property and Financial Affairs Deputy
A recent case before the Court of Protection illustrated how the issues of an elderly lady’s (“Mrs P”) welfare and residence were inextricably linked with the appointment of a deputy that was managing her property and affairs.
Mrs P had worked all of her life, owned her own home, and had several pensions and investments in bonds. Mrs P lacked the mental capacity to make decisions as to where she should reside. Mrs P’s care was fully funded by the Clinical Commissioning Group. However, investigations established that a number of Mrs P’s challenging behaviours could be improved by increasing the standard and quality of her living arrangements, which could be funded by her own resources at her disposal.
A deputy from the law firm Temperley Taylor, was appointed to manage Mrs P’s property and affairs. The application to be appointed as deputy was made on the basis that the firm was well placed to manage Mrs P’s property and affairs because Mrs P had been a long-standing client and the law firm held her Will. An Order was granted allowing the applicant deputy to investigate the assets, income and liabilities of Mrs P and to report the findings back to the Court. It appears that the issues concerning Mrs P’s welfare, residence and deprivation of liberty overtook other matters.
Various care plans and assessments in relation to Mrs P’s welfare had repeatedly raised the need to reappraise her needs and to financially provide for her in relation to her diet, weight loss and clothing. Mrs P suffers with coeliac disease and required gluten-free food, which was considered to be better for her health and she could afford to purchase this food privately. It was clear that she shared a love and devotion towards her dog and the Court was told how Mrs P’s ‘face lights up’ when she sees other dogs. All of the above matters affect her quality of life and were provided for in her recent care plan. A sum of £500 was sought from the Deputy to purchase more varied food and for her dog to be brought to her.
The Court also noted correspondence from the firm regarding Mrs P’s access to the dog, which the court described as ‘brutal and insensitive’.
“Unrealistic to expect the lady to bring the dog to [the Nursing Home].”
“In the absence of any factual information about Bobby, his owner or the home’s policy on animals, it would seem irresponsible in the extreme to suggest that a dog visits a care home for elderly and frail people.”
The Court stated it was:
“Particularly troubled about how Mrs P, and the things that she needs, are to be provided for. What is known is that her wishes and feelings before her second stroke were very clear. She enjoyed a good quality of life, she loved her dog, likes to be made to feel glamourous. Now she is wearing ill-fitting clothes, and financially unable to pay to have her feminine needs attended to, such as having her hair and nails done.”
The judge decided that the deputy was to be removed on the following grounds:
‘This court has such authority under the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005 section 20(6) in that any deputy is to apply the principles of the MCA and, under section 4, best interests. Based on what the court has seen and heard, the court is satisfied that they are not acting in her [Mrs P’s] best interests. The delay in establishing Mrs P’s financial position is inexplicable. In fact, it is entirely unclear on what basis they consider the steps they have taken to be in her interests.’
This case highlights the issues that can arise with a Deputyship and the need to consider carefully the best interests of the person affected. If you have any queries about this please do contact one of Coffin Mew’s specialist Court of Protection team who can assist with applications to the Court of Protection if a person lacks capacity to make decisions in relation to health and welfare or financial matters.
Sue Bowler is a Court of Protection Panel Deputy. If you would like any further information about deputyship and the management of financial affairs, please contact our Court of Protection team on 023 9238 8021.