How Long Does Court Of Protection Take?
If you or a loved one lacks the mental capacity to make certain personal or financial decisions, the Court of Protection can provide clarity on who is allowed to do what.
In this short guide, we explain how long it takes to be appointed a deputy, how to approach the process while also considering the legal implications.
Unfortunately, as our loved ones get older, they often lose their mental capacity to make important life decisions for themselves. Occasionally, age isn’t a factor at all, and our family members lose capacity through illness or an accident.
When you or a loved one lose the capacity to make financial and welfare decisions, the Court of Protection can provide the ability to act on someone else’s behalf. They have the authority to appoint a Deputy who can make key decisions for an individual if a Lasting Power of Attorney has not been created.
Below, our Court of Protection team explains how long the Court of Protection process takes, when you need to apply to become a Deputy, and the reasons why we recommend seeking legal advice if you are doing so.
If you have any questions about the Court of Protection, Lasting Powers of Attorney, or being appointed a Deputy, get in touch with our Wirral Solicitors by filling out the enquiry form on this page or calling 0151 666 9090.
Under what circumstances might you need to apply to the Court of Protection?
There are various scenarios where you might need to apply to the Court of Protection to become an appointed deputy. Most commonly, a family member will apply to the Court due to the individual failing to establish Lasting Powers of Attorney when they had the mental capacity to do so.
The Court of Protection has the power to:
- Decide whether a person lacks mental capacity to make decisions about their financial affairs, medical treatment or other welfare matters
- Appoint deputies who can make those decisions
- Grant permission to make a one-off decision for your loved one
- Deal with emergency applications when a decision is time-dependent
- Make decisions about Lasting Powers of Attorney
- Review statutory will applications
- Make decisions regarding whether your loved one has been deprived of their liberty under the Mental Capacity Act
How you or your loved one loses mental capacity may depend on various factors. The common situations our experts see are:
- Mental health conditions, such as schizophrenia or bipolar
- Accident or stroke causing brain damage
- Drugs and alcohol misuse
- Medically induced comas
- General deterioration through age
Ultimately, the court will decide if the individual in question lacks capacity. If the court decides to grant lasting powers of attorney, you will be able to make decisions on the person's behalf, including managing the person's financial affairs and bank accounts, or making choices about their care that reflect their best interests.
The process of applying to be someone's deputy with the Court of Protection
To apply to become a deputy for a family member or other loved one, you will first need to submit an application to the Court of Protection. This application can be complicated, and it is vital that you note all of your details down correctly in order to avoid any potentially costly delays.
You will need to complete the main application form and include all the relevant information, such as your loved one’s details. You will then need to provide supporting information for property and affairs, and/or supporting information for personal welfare, depending on the type of deputyship you require.
In the application process, you will also need to include an assessment of capacity. This should be completed by someone who is involved in supporting the individual, such as a relative, GP, social worker, or occupational therapist.
In addition to this, you will need to send a deputy’s declaration, where you detail your own personal and financial circumstances, and how you would make the decisions for the individual involved.
Once all of the forms have been completed and sent off to the Court of Protection, you must notify the individual who lacks capacity and anyone else who needs to be kept informed within 14 days.
If no one raises any objections, the Court will send the application to an Authorised Officer or a Judge for their consideration.
The Court will then make a decision and will either make a Deputy Order to appoint you, or send an interim order.
How long does the Court take to appoint a deputy?
The process of being appointed as a Deputy should take four to six months. After you have sent off all of the relevant documents and informed all of the appropriate people within 14 days, there is usually a two to three-month wait for the Deputyship Order to be authorised by the Court.
If any of the people who have been notified object to the Deputyship application, then proceedings will become disputed and can often take months to resolve.
What is the difference between an LPA and a Deputyship?
Both a Lasting Power of Attorney and a Deputyship have the same goal in mind - to look after the affairs of a loved one when the person lacks capacity to make their own decisions. The key difference, however, is when they are appointed and who by.
Attorneys are appointed in an LPA by the person who wishes to have their decisions taken care of when they lose capacity. They are:
- The choice of the individual in question
- Before they have lost mental capacity
A Deputyship is appointed by the Court, after the individual has lost mental capacity. They are:
- The choice of loved ones and, ultimately, the Courts
- After the individual has lost mental capacity
Generally speaking, a Deputyship is the legal solution when an LPA has not been written, or if it is found that the LPA was written when the individual in question did not have mental capacity and is, therefore, invalid.
Are emergency applications to the Court of Protection quicker?
In certain circumstances, you can apply to the Court of Protection to get an urgent or emergency court order to help manage a person's affairs.
While it is not fully clear when an application should be classed as “urgent”, this often occurs when someone’s life or welfare is at risk and a decision has to be made right away.
If the court agrees, you will be able to make a one-off necessary decision on behalf of the person who lacks mental capacity.
These orders are usually applicable to cases where the court needs to deal with an application as soon as possible, sometimes within 24 hours. This means that an emergency application to the court of protection can be faster, but will usually not be long-lasting.
Why legal support is vital to a successful application
While you are not required to instruct a solicitor to make an application to the Court of Protection, the process can be complicated, and mistakes can have potentially serious consequences for the health and safety of your loved one.
A specialist Court of Protection solicitor can ensure that the application is completed properly, and that all of the appropriate people are informed in good time.
Capacity assessments from a medical practitioner must show that the person does not have the mental capacity to make decisions on their own, and various other formal procedures must be followed.
If not, the forms will simply be sent back, and you will have wasted precious time.
In addition to this, if the application is disputed because someone objects to the Deputyship, you may have to go to Court, where you will benefit greatly from legal representation.
How can Percy Hughes & Roberts help?
At Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors, we have a team of dedicated Court of Protection solicitors who are ready to help you resolve your query or issue relating to this area of the law as quickly and effectively as possible.
If you need assistance with applying to become a Deputy, the Court of Protection process, or any other legal issues surrounding mental capacity, our wills, trusts, and probate solicitors have a wealth of experience.
They can help you through what can be a potentially stressful time in ensuring the best possible outcome for your loved one.
Contact Percy Hughes & Roberts
To speak to an employment law solicitor for advice, contact Percy Hughes & Roberts for a no-obligation phone consultation today. We provide ourselves on offering expert advice that's easy to understand, and we will be with you through every step of the legal process.
Call us on 0151 666 9090, or fill out an online enquiry form to arrange for us to get in touch at a time that's suitable for you.