Could #FreeBritney happen in the UK?

  • Describe the difference between Deputy ships and conservatorships
  • Explain how deputyships work in the UK
  • Identify the advantages of deputyships

Deputies are supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and must submit annual reports explaining the income and expenditure for the year as well as any significant decisions made.

They are also subject to supervision visits from a Court of Protection visitor who will ensure that the deputy understands their duties, is receiving the support they need from the OPG and are carrying out their duties with the appropriate level of expertise. Court of Protection visitors may also investigate Deputies where a concern has been raised or a complaint submitted.

How do deputies work with IFAs?

The deputy’s Order of appointment from the Court will usually state that they should obtain and take into account proper advice from a financial or investment adviser, especially if the person concerned has significant assets.

Guidance from the OPG suggests that they should work with an adviser when they feel that they do not have the relevant investment experience or knowledge. Any investments must always be made within the scope of the Court Order and with the person’s short and long-term needs in mind, factors include the likely rising cost of care and property requirements.

When preparing annual reports to the OPG, deputies will need to demonstrate that they have consulted and made decisions based on appropriate advice.

It is also essential to maintain proper and correct accounts which record all investments, as the OPG can ask for these at any time. Working with a suitable adviser will ensure that these requirements are met.

While the OPG is unlikely to look favourably on a deputy who does nothing with a person’s funds, it is important that they take a cautious approach to investment to meet financial needs.

It is best practice for deputies to carefully examine the person’s current and long-term financial needs. IFAs can provide crucial assistance with this by carrying out cash-flow forecasting. This will determine the level of investment and the amount of return required for the remainder of the person’s life.

How is a deputy appointed and monitored?

Deputies are required by the Court of Protection to report to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and as such there are adequate safeguards and monitoring in place to ensure that this essential role can be fulfilled.

The level of oversight reduces the risk of the situation Britney Spears has found herself in. The Court also carries out suitability checks to ensure that the deputy is an appropriate person to be appointed to carry out this role.