Guide to Court of Protection Orders
If you want to support someone who cannot make decisions for themselves, you may consider applying for a Court of Protection Order. Here you’ll find information about what the Court of Protection is and the kind of support an Order can give.
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What is a Court of Protection Order?
A Court of Protection Order is a legal document. It appoints someone (a ‘deputy’) to make decisions for someone else (a ‘donor’).
The Order is issued by the Court of Protection in England and Wales. And it’s only made when the donor lacks mental capacity and there’s no lasting power of attorney in place.
There are other types of order available depending in where you live in the UK. But they all work in a similar way.
- In Scotland, the Sheriff can make a Guardianship Order.
- In Northern Ireland, the High Court can make a Controllership Order.
- In England and Wales, they’re sometimes called Deputyship Orders as well as Court of Protection Orders.
Once a Court of Protection Order is granted, the deputy must register it with us before they can manage the donor’s Nationwide accounts.
Other ways to support someone
If someone still has mental capacity, they may want to set up a lasting power of attorney instead. This document gives them more control over how their affairs are managed.
Where someone’s only income is from benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) can make someone an ‘appointee’. A DWP appointee (opens in a new window) can manage the donor’s money if they have lost mental capacity.
How does a Court of Protection Order work?
The Court of Protection will only grant an Order when someone is unable to make decisions for themselves and there’s no lasting power of attorney in place to help them.
The Court can appoint 2 types of deputy to support someone. They can appoint 1 deputy for welfare and 1 for property and finances. This can be the same person.
The Court will decide everything from how many deputies to appoint to what each deputy can (and cannot) do.
Becoming a deputy
Anyone can apply to become a deputy. This is usually a friend or relative of the donor.
A deputy must be aged 18 years old or over. And if they’ll be managing money, they need to be confident making financial decisions for someone else.
If no one close to the donor is suitable, the Court can appoint a panel deputy. A panel deputy is usually an approved charity or law firm.
More than 1 deputy
If more than 1 person applies to be a deputy, the Court may decide how the deputies work together.
The Court can decide that deputies must act ‘Jointly’. This means they must make all decisions together. Or that the deputies act ‘Jointly and Severally’. This means they can make decisions together or on their own.
Once the Order has been issued, the Office of the Public Guardian will contact the deputy regularly to see how things are working. The Office can give support and advice as well as help the deputy understand their responsibilities.
The deputy will also need to send an annual report to the Office of the Public Guardian. This document explains each decision the deputy has made for the donor. And the report must include a record of money that’s gone in and out of the donor’s accounts that year.
What can a deputy do?
Each Court of Protection Order is unique. And the Court will decide what a deputy can and cannot do.
Some things a deputy may do with Nationwide include:
Paying bills and making transfers
Managing regular payments (like standing orders)
Selling property or managing mortgage payments
In most cases, the deputy must not:
Put money or property in their name
The deputy must keep their own money separate from the donor’s money.
Give away the donor’s money
The Court may let the deputy make a gift of money to someone using the donor’s money. But generally, the deputy should not give away substantial amounts of the donor’s money.
Make or change a will
A deputy cannot change an existing will or make a new one for the person they’re supporting without asking the Court of Protection.
Claim unnecessary expenses
A deputy can claim back money for things they’ve had to pay for to help the donor. For example, making phone calls or posting documents. But they shouldn’t claim expenses for the time they spend supporting someone.
When the Court appoints a deputy, the deputy must agree to make decisions in the donor’s best interests.
If the Court finds that the deputy has purposefully mistreated the person they’re supporting, they can send the deputy to prison for up to 5 years. They can also be fined.
How long does a Court of Protection Order last?
The Court will decide how long the Order will last for. And in most cases, this will usually last for the whole of the donor’s lifetime.
However, the Court can also make one-off decisions. Here, the Court can make a single decision about someone who has lost mental capacity. For example, someone can apply to the Court to stop another person from visiting someone in a care home.
The Court can also make emergency Orders. These are known as ‘urgent interim Orders’. These are made where there is an immediate risk to someone who has lost mental capacity. For example, they need medical treatment that they are not able to consent to.
How much does a Court of Protection Order cost?
Fees for a Court of Protection Order can vary depending on the type of deputy someone wants to be. As well as the amount of money the person they want to support has.
In all cases, the deputy will need to pay:
- an application fee
- any Court or legal fees associated with the application (these are a fixed amount set by the Court)
- a supervision fee every year.
If a deputy is appointed to manage someone’s money, the deputy may be able to claim these costs back from the donor’s funds.
If the deputy is on a low income or receives certain benefits, they may not need to pay some or all of the fees. The Court of Protection can give specific advice when a deputy makes an application.
How do I get a Court of Protection Order?
In England and Wales, you can apply to the Court of Protection by post or via a solicitor.
While you don’t have to use a solicitor, getting a Court of Protection Order can be a complex process. So, you may want to take advice from a professional who can help you along the way.
How to become a deputy
First, you must complete an application form, an assessment of capacity form, a deputy’s declaration and a supporting information form. You can access these documents online at GOV.UK (opens in a new window) or via a solicitor.
Send the documents to the Court by post. Then tell the person who you want to support that you have applied. You must also tell 3 people who know that person well – like friends, relatives or their GP. The Court will ask to see proof that you have done this.
At least 14 days after you’ve told these people, the Court will review your application. The Court will let you know if they’ve approved or rejected your application. Or the Court may decide to hold a hearing to get more information.
If your application is successful, the Court will send you a copy of the Court Order. This document will let you know what you can and cannot do for the donor. And you can start acting on the donor’s behalf straightaway.
Managing someone else’s money as a deputy
Once you’ve been appointed, you must register the Court of Protection Order with the donor’s banks and building societies. The Court can send you copies of the Order that you can use to do this.
Register a Court of Protection Order with us
If you’ve been appointed as a deputy, you’ll need to register the Court of Protection Order with us before you can access someone’s Nationwide accounts.
Looking for help?
Already acting as a deputy?
We’ve put together a guide to help you manage someone else’s money as simply as possible .
Understanding power of attorney
If someone you want to support still has mental capacity, a lasting power of attorney could suit them better. Learn more about the different types of power of attorney and how they could help.