What is the difference between an Attorney and a Deputy?

The critical difference between an attorney and a deputy is the timing of their appointment. 

An attorney is an individual you appoint and give a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to act on your behalf in case you lose mental capacity. You can choose your attorney when you still have mental capacity.

Unlike an attorney, a deputy is an appointee of the Court of Protection to manage your affairs after you lose mental capacity. The court decides who to appoint as your deputy since you no longer have the ability to do it yourself.

What is an attorney?

An attorney is a person you appoint through a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to decide critical matters on your behalf or help you make decisions related to your health or finances. 

The LPA is the legal document in which you, the donor, appoint one or more people to be your attorney. You must register the LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before your attorney can make any decisions.

What decisions can an attorney make?

The decisions an attorney can make depend on the type of LPA the attorney has. Property and financial affairs attorneys make or help you make decisions relating to:

- Money, tax and bills
- Pensions and benefits
- Accounts in banks and building societies
- Property and investments

Health and welfare attorneys will decide or help you decide on:

- Daily routines, like eating, washing and dressing
- Where to live
- Medical care
What is a Deputy?

A deputy is an individual that the Court of Protection appoints to deal with your property and financial matters when you lack the mental ability to do it yourself. A deputy must be 18 years or older. It could be:

- A relative
- A friend
- A spouse or partner
- A professional such as a solicitor or social worker

What decisions can a Deputy make?

After the Court of Protection appoints a deputy, they issue an order specifying what a deputy can and cannot do. 

There are two types of deputies:

  1. A property and financial affairs deputy will make decisions like paying your bills and organising your pension.
  2. A personal welfare deputy will decide about your medical care and how to look after you. 

Usually, the court will designate a personal welfare deputy only if:

- The court doubts whether decisions will be in your best interests, for example, if family members disagree about your care.
- It is critical to appoint someone to make a specific decision over time, such as where you will live.

Is Deputyship the same as Power of Attorney?

Although both deputyship and power of attorney authorise people to make decisions and act on your behalf if you lose mental capacity, they are different.

Power of Attorney is legal documentation that lets you appoint a person to decide matters on your behalf. It is made in preparation for the future before a loss of capacity.

A deputyship is a last resort when you lose decision-making capacity, and no one has the legal authority to do it on your behalf. The court appoints someone it deems fit, but the deputy’s powers are more restricted than those of an attorney.


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