If your wife is not in a position to make financial decisions and there is no power of attorney in place, you must apply to the Court of Protection for deputyship over her finances.
Only if you are appointed as a deputy by the court, you get legal authority to manage her finances. You cannot assume that since you are the husband, you automatically have the authority to do so.
Managing finances may include looking after bank accounts, investments, buying or selling property, and other financial matters.
To apply for deputyship, you need to give an application fee, fill out four forms and submit them to the Court of Protection.
There are three types of deputyships
- Single Deputyship
It would be mean that you are solely responsible and authorised to handle the finances of your spouse.
- Joint Deputyship
This would mean that two or more people are appointed as deputies and all of them must agree on a decision before it is finalised
- Joint and Several Deputyship
This is similar to Joint Deputyship, the only difference being that all deputies are not required to come to a single decision. Any deputy can make a decision with the assistance of other deputies.
Before appointing you as a deputy, the Court of Protection will first determine if your wife is really unable to make financial decisions.
A person is considered to have lost the mental capacity needed to make financial decisions if he or she
- cannot make a decision because of a physical or mental disability or a serious illness
- cannot communicate their decision in any way, even with the blink of an eye
- cannot understand information, weigh matters, or remember details to arrive at a decision
The court will ask you to submit evidence to prove that your wife is not in a position to make financial decisions.
Then, the court will consider if you are suitable for the role of a deputy. For example, a person who has filed for bankruptcy would not be appointed as deputy. The Court of Protection will look for reasonable evidence to see if you have the needed skills to make financial decisions.
The court will then ask you to notify close relatives of your wife about your appointment as deputy. After you do that, you need to submit the certificate of notification for every person you have informed. If a close relative hasn’t been notified, he has the right to appeal and you could lose your deputyship.
After you are appointed as a deputy, you will receive an official document which says you have the legal authority to act. The court will also provide many copies of the court order. You can submit those copies wherever needed, for example, at the bank or the insurance company.
Please remember that the court places limits on the financial decisions you can make as deputy and you must act within those limits.
Since a deputy can abuse his authority, the Office of Public Guardian will supervise to see if you are acting based on the best interests of your wife. If not, the deputyship is revoked. So, make sure to have clear accounts and also, note down the reasons for your decisions.
The whole process of applying for deputyship could take close to 16 weeks. But if you have to make an urgent financial decision, then you can apply to the Court of Protection for it and you will get a response in 24 hours. If you need further assistance and guidance with all the legalities involved, please do not hesitate to contact us.