Taking responsibility...helping lives
Rebecca Davies was just a few months old when she was involved in an horrific car accident that changed her life forever.
She suffered terrible injuries to her brain and doctors gave her little chance of survival.
But almost 25 years later, and despite her extensive special needs, Rebecca is thriving – she has even achieved her dream of representing Great Britain in ice skating, an activity she embarked on just two years ago.
Rebecca has severe capacity issues. She has poor eyesight, suffers from epilepsy and has seizures every day – some of which are life threatening. She has 24-hour live-in care to help with her medical needs - but what about all other areas of her life? Who decides how much money she should have and what she should spend it on?
These decisions have become the responsibility of Blake Morgan’s Court of Protection team, run by Vikki Heard. Rachel has been appointed Rebecca’s Deputy through the Court of Protection to manage her property and affairs. Rachel and Vikki, together with her myriad of carers, case manager and her family are doing all they can to give Rebecca her independence.
The Court of Protection is an appointed body which looks after the affairs of people who are unable to manage their affairs for themselves due to a lack of mental capacity. It’s an area of law that few of us will know about, but it is a growing specialism at Blake Morgan.
Rachel and her team currently have more than 120 people who they are responsible for on a daily basis – being part of every facet of their lives.
In Rebecca’s case, Rachel and Vikki have worked with her for eight years and having that external influence and making sure that the right team is in place has helped her go from being someone who could do very little for herself, to someone who, with help, can live relatively independently.
There is no better example of this than Rebecca’s achievement on the ice. In April 2014, she decided she’d like to have a go and Rachel arranged for her to have one-to-one lessons with an instructor at Planet Ice in Gosport. She completely fell in love with the sport and had lessons twice a week with former professional skater Paul Crocker.
Just a year after beginning lessons, she was picked to represent Great Britain in the Special Olympics National Inclusive Skating Championships in Glasgow where she won a gold and silver.
The head of her care team Ann Smart said: “It was truly amazing to watch her. When she’s on the ice she’s like a different girl. She skates on her own with no help at all. It’s the only time she’s truly independent.”
When is it necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection?
- if a person is incapable of managing their affairs owing to the lack of the necessary mental capacity
- there is no Enduring Power of Attorney or Lasting Power of Attorney and the person is not capable of making one owing to their lack of mental capacity
- the person has assets that need to be used for their own benefit.
How do you make the application and what fees are payable to the Court?
The application is made to the Court of Protection. The application comprises a series of forms - an application form (form COP1), an assessment of capacity form to be completed by the client's GP or other doctor (form COP3), a schedule of the client's assets and personal circumstances (form COP1A and/or COP1B) and a Deputy's Declaration (form COP4). All these forms have to be submitted to the Court together with an application fee of £400. Notice of the application has to be served on the relatives of the client.
There is a one-off £100 Deputy Assessment fee for assessing each case, adding details of the deputy and the order to the register and setting the supervision level.
The annual supervision fee is based on the cost of providing services to support the deputy and the client.
The amount is dependent on the level of supervision you have been allocated.
Fees are paid from the client's funds but each case will be reviewed regularly and the level of supervision allocated may change as circumstances change.
What can a deputy do?
On appointing a deputy, the Court issues a First General Order, which gives the deputy wide powers to manage the affairs of the client. This means that the deputy can sign and execute deeds and documentation on behalf of the client, open or close bank accounts, buy or sell stocks and shares, maintain insurance policies and even buy or sell a property. It is important that the information provided to the Court in the initial application is accurate and comprehensive as it is from this information that the First General Order is made.
If, at a later date, it is necessary to buy a house or invest a large amount of money on behalf of the client and authority is not included in the First General Order, then it will be necessary to make a further application to the Court to obtain an order authorising the deputy to take that action. A fee of £400 is payable every time an application is made to the Court.
Special orders are required from the Court in order to:
- Make gifts from the client's assets
- Make or alter a Will for the client
- Appoint or discharge a trustee – these applications may be necessary if there is a jointly-owned property.