I act as a professional Financial Deputy for many clients and recently I have had a run of people wanting to change their Professional Deputy and come to me. So what causes this? Well, there are several reasons and it is usually a combination of two or three but the biggest reason by far is a lack of communication they receive from their current Deputy. Families do not know what is going on, they’d like to know more but are reluctant to ask.
What is a Professional Deputy?
Under section 4(7)(b) of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 a Deputy has a duty to take into account and consult “anyone engaged in caring for the person or interested in his welfare”. Therefore the Deputy has to take into account the views of the family when making best interest decisions. Apart from this being an obligation under the Act it also helps build a relationship so that everyone can make clearer and more well informed decisions for the client. It also builds trust.
How we work as Professional Deputy team
I have a team of 10 so even if I am out of the office there is always someone to help. I visit my clients once a year for a face to face meeting and have an allocated solicitor as my “second in command”. The system works well.
My whole team understand how important it is to get to know the client. It is not just about investing their money wisely. It is also about knowing our clients as individuals so that we can do our best for them. Do they have favourite places they like to go on holiday? Are they a really close family unit and like to treat each other at Christmas? Or, are they so in love with cars that they would really appreciate an older car to do up as a fun project? Small things I know but this really does help build on the knowledge you have of a client.
What is the most important thing about being a Professional Deputy?
Being a Professional Deputy is all about relationships. The family need to know that they can talk to you and that you can all get on. You may not always agree on everything but then you should always be able to talk it through. You should never force a decision on someone. If you both want the best for your client then usually a solution can be found.
Other elements which are key to making a Deputyship work are:
- A firm relationship - A good relationship with the family, built on trust is hugely important.
- Strong communication - Even if the Deputy is unavailable there should be somebody else in the office you can speak to and emails should be responded to as quickly as possible.
- Honesty in your dealings - This works both ways. In the past I have received invoices from the client’s family that have been “doctored” which doesn’t help anyone.
- Explain your reasoning – Always ensure that families understand the reasoning behind advice or decisions you have taken or given on their behalf.
See the bigger picture – Never lose sight of the many things families have to cope with. Life may be filled with constantly reading medical reports. They need a break but cannot get it. I, as a Deputy, need to be mindful of this as I do not live their lives but what I do see is hard for them. Somehow they cope and I hope that in my small way I can help with that.
If you would like to talk to Ruth or the Court of Protection team about your deputyship needs email them at email@example.com.