The Court of Protection appoints individuals to make decisions for people who are unable to do so for themselves. Common applications to the Court of Protection include to be appointed as deputy, to ask the court to make a decision about a person's property and financial affairs or their health and welfare or to make a will on that person's behalf.
If someone has not made a Lasting Power of Attorney and they lose capacity, an application is made to the Court of Protection by whoever comes forward to make the application. This may be a relative whom the patient would not have chosen. Any one over the age of 18 years can be a deputy.
If someone does not have close family to apply as a deputy then the court can appoint the local authority or a professional deputy to act such as a solicitor. In these circumstances, again you have no control as to who is appointed.
The Court of Protection will usually appoint a Deputy when a client is deemed to lack mental or legal capacity and has more than £16,000 in cash after payment of debts, property to be sold or purchased or if there is a level of income that the Court considers necessitates the appointment of a Deputy.
The Court of Protection prefer a close family member to act as a Deputy as they are far more likely to have the person's best interest at heart.
An application to the Court of Protection is one of great length and also expense. The initial application fee is £400, plus bonds need to be put in place, a mental capacity assessment of the person to whom the application relates needs to be undertaken which can cost anywhere from £150 plus the professional charges of legal professionals, who often charge on an hourly rate basis.
Subsequently, this is the route that Tim and Claire will need to go down if they are going to be in a position to deal with their father's affairs. The scenario would have made much easier if Bill had made a Lasting Power of Attorney.