The Jargon Buster

The legal profession doesn't have a good reputation for using plain English. 

Use our extensive Jargon-Busting tool below to search for any terms or phrases which are often used (and misunderstood) in the legal field.

If there is a term you can't find (by using the search function below) then ask the forum for a definition!

Deputyship

What is the Court of Protection?


The Court of Protection helps people who are mentally incapable of making their own decisions. It does this by making decisions for them about their money, property, health or welfare. The Court can also give these powers to someone else if there is a need for decisions to be made on an ongoing basis because the person can no longer make their own decisions. If the Court gives these powers to someone else, they will be known as a Deputy.




How Do I apply to the Court?


If someone you care about loses the ability to make their own decisions you can apply to the Court of Protection for permission to make decisions for them. To apply, there are some forms that will need to be filled in and a doctors certificate will be required to confirm to the Court that the person cannot make decisions for themselves. It is very important that those forms are filled in properly or they will be sent back. It can take a long time to complete the forms and it is important that you know exactly what powers you will need to apply for. For example, you might only need the power to help your friend or relative to manage their money, or to make decisions about what treatment they receive in hospital. Or you might need a much more general power to help them with all their financial and other decisions.




What are a Deputy's Duties?


Deputies are appointed to make decisions for someone else about finances, property, health or wellbeing or any combination of these. This carries a huge responsibility. When making a decision on behalf of your friend or relative as their deputy you must: Make decisions that are in their best interests Only make a decision if your friend or relative cannot make it for themselves Only make decisions that the Court has said you can Keep in mind the guidance in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice Make your decisions with a high standard of care You may be required to provide a report to the Court on a regular basis about the decisions you have made and the reasons for them.




What do I do if I think someone is being financially abused?


You could contact the Citizens Advice Bureau. Or you could telephone your local Social Services and ask to speak to someone in their vulnerable adults’ team. There are also charities that can help, such as Action on Elder Abuse. We also have experience of helping people in this situation and can also advise about whether an application to the Court of Protection could help, so contact us for advice. You could contact the Citizens Advice Bureau or your local social services. Charities such as Action on Elder Abuse may also be able to help. We also have experience of helping people in this situation, so contact us for advice.




When Can I Make A Lasting Power Of Attorney?


You can make a lasting power of attorney at any time, as long as you have mental capacity to do so: you must be able to understand the decision you are making. A Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to set out how you want your healthcare or financial affairs to be managed if you become unable to manage them yourselves in the future.




My Mum Has Dementia/A Stroke And Is In Hospital/A Home - Can I Take Out A Power Of Attorney?


Only if she has the mental capacity needed to take out the Power of Attorney. If her condition means that she cannot do so, you may need to apply to the Court for a Deputyship instead.




Who Can Be A Deputy?


You can apply to be a deputy if you’re 18 or over. Deputies are usually close relatives or friends of the person who needs help making decisions. If you want to become a property and affairs deputy, you need to have the skills to make financial decisions for someone else. The court can appoint 2 or more deputies for the same person. When there’s more than one deputy When you apply, tell the court how you’ll make decisions if you’re not the only deputy. It will be either: together (‘joint deputyship’), which means all the deputies have to agree on the decision separately or together (‘jointly and severally’), which means deputies can make decisions on their own or with other deputies Other types of deputy Some people are paid to act as deputies, for example accountants, solicitors or representatives of the local authority. The Court of Protection can appoint a specialist deputy (called a ‘panel deputy’) from a list of approved law firms and charities if no one else is available.





LPA

How Do I Make A Lasting Power Of Attorney?


There are a number of forms that you need to fill in. To give your attorney the powers you want them to have, the forms have to be sent to the Office of the Public Guardian to be registered. The Office of the Public Guardian will check through the forms and make sure that they have been filled in and signed properly. It is usually recommended that you send the forms in as soon as possible to avoid any delays because it can take several weeks for the Office of the Public Guardian to process the forms.




Who Is Told About My Lasting Power Of Attorney?


You can choose who is told, so you might want to tell family members or close friends. These people can raise concerns about your Lasting Power of Attorney if they wish to do so.




When Can I Make A Lasting Power Of Attorney?


You can make a lasting power of attorney at any time, as long as you have mental capacity to do so: you must be able to understand the decision you are making. A Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to set out how you want your healthcare or financial affairs to be managed if you become unable to manage them yourselves in the future.




What do I do if I think someone is being financially abused?


You could contact the Citizens Advice Bureau. Or you could telephone your local Social Services and ask to speak to someone in their vulnerable adults’ team. There are also charities that can help, such as Action on Elder Abuse. We also have experience of helping people in this situation and can also advise about whether an application to the Court of Protection could help, so contact us for advice. You could contact the Citizens Advice Bureau or your local social services. Charities such as Action on Elder Abuse may also be able to help. We also have experience of helping people in this situation, so contact us for advice.





Wills

What Is A Statutory Will?


To make an ordinary Will, there are rules that say that you have to be of ‘sound mind’. To be of sound mind, you have to understand what you own, what making a will actually means and who your loved ones are even if you decide not to leave them anything. If you are not of sound mind you cannot make a Will and if you do write one it will not be legal or valid. But if someone is not able to make a Will because they do not have the mental capacity to do so, a statutory Will can be made for them.





Jargon-Buster

Appointee


If the person you look after needs help to manage their benefits and there is not already a lasting power of attorney in place, you could apply to be their appointee. This means that you become responsible for making and maintaining any benefit claims on behalf of the person you look after. For more information on appointees you can visit the gov.uk website.




Third party mandate


If the person you look after wants help managing their bank account then they could make a third party mandate with their bank. This means that they name a specific person (for example you as their carer), and this gives you the authority to manage the bank account. You should speak to the bank of the person you look after to request a third party mandate arrangement.




Ordinary power of attorney


If the person you look after wants help managing their bank account and other financial affairs then they could grant an ordinary power of attorney to a specific person (for example you as their carer). This means that the specific person has the authority to deal with any financial affairs specified in the ordinary power of attorney. If the person you look after wants to grant an ordinary power of attorney they could contact a local advice centre to see if they can help or they could contact a legal adviser.




Lasting power of attorney


If the person you look after is 18+ and can currently make their own decisions but wants to make arrangement in case they are unable to make decisions in the future then they could make a lasting power of attorney. This means that they appoint a specific person (for example you as their carer) to have the authority to make certain decisions on their behalf. There are two types of lasting power of attorney: power of attorney for property and financial affairs - which covers things such as bank accounts, paying bills, collecting benefits or pensions and selling a home power of attorney for health and welfare – which covers things such as medical care and social care The person you look after can make just one type of lasting power of attorney, or both types of lasting power of attorney. Note: A property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney can be used before the person you look after is unable to make their own decisions, if they so wish. However a health and welfare lasting power of attorney can only be used if the person you look after is unable to make their own decisions. For more information about lasting power of attorney’s, including how to make a lasting power of attorney, how to register a lasting power of attorney and the fees involved, you can view the gov.uk website. If the person you look after wants to grant a lasting power of attorney and wants some help with this, they could contact a local advice centre to see if they can help, or they could contact a legal adviser.




Attorney


An individual appointed under a Lasting Power of Attorney who has the legal right to make decisions on behalf of the Donor.




Best Interests


A Deputy is under a duty to make any decision or action taken in the person’s best interests. There are standard minimum steps to follow when working out someone’s best interests.




Capacity


Capacity refers to a person’s ability to make a particular decision.




Code of Practice


The Code of Practice acts as a guide to support the Mental Capacity Act.




Court of Protection


A Court specialising in issues relating to people who lack capacity to make specific decisions for themselves.




Deputy


An individual appointed by the Court with the legal authority to make decisions on behalf of the person who lacks capacity.




Duty of Care


A Deputy is expected to show a Duty of Care when carrying out their services. The level of care required varies depending on the type of services carried out.




Office of the Public Guardian


This organisation keeps a register of, and investigates any concerns raised in relation to Deputies.




Certificate provider


A person the donor chooses to complete the certificate which accompanies the Lasting Power of Attorney application form. The certificate provider must confirm that the donor understands the Lasting Power of Attorney and that the donor is not under any pressure to make it. The certificate provider can be someone with specialist professional qualifications that equip them to decide that the donor has capacity (i.e. a doctor) or someone who has known the donor for at least two years.




Certified copy


The donor can certify a copy of their registered Lasting Power of Attorney by hand if they still have mental capacity. It simply involves writing a signed and dated declaration at the bottom of each printed page. If they no longer have mental capacity, they can have a copy certified by a solicitor, a notary or a member of the Stock Exchange.




Donor (LPA)


Someone over 18 who makes a Lasting Power of Attorney and appoints one or more attorney(s) to make decisions about their health and welfare or property and financial affairs, or both.




BOND


A bond is an insurance policy set up at the outset of a Deputyship to ensure the client is protected from any financial losses that could occur as a result of decisions made by the Deputy. Where a loss is identified the bond will be called in and the Deputy may be asked to repay the company that has issued the bond. The amount of the bond is a judicial decision and if you want to amend it you must apply to the Court of Protection to do so.




Deputies annual Report (OPG102 or OPG103)


A report which the Property and Affairs Deputy submits to the Office of the Public Guardian each year to show how they have dealt with an incapacitated person's financial affairs.




Guardianship


Arrangements made under the Mental Health Act 1983 for a Guardian to be appointed for a person with a mental disorder to help ensure that they get the care they need in the community.




Litigation Friend


A person appointed by the Court to conduct legal proceedings on behalf of, and in the name of, someone who lacks the capacity to deal with that for themselves.




Official Solicitor


Provides legal services for vulnerable persons and represents adults who lack capacity to conduct litigation in County Court or High Court proceedings in England and Wales and in the Court of Protection.




Receiver


Someone appointed by the old Court of Protection to manage the property and affairs of a person lacking capacity This was before October 2007 and the introduction of Deputies. Many receivers have become Deputies, having first obtained an updated order from the Court of Protection.




Statutory Will


A Will made by the Court of Protection for a person who lacks testamentary capacity. Testamentary capacity is the level of understanding a person needs to make a Will.




Visitor


An independent representative of the Court of Protection and Office of the Public Guardian who will visit the Deputy and the person they represent.




Appointeeship


if a person is incapacitated and entitled to receive a retirement pension or other state benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions can choose an 'appointee' to receive those benefits on that person's behalf. The appointee can be a relative, friend or someone from the caring professions (such as the local authority social services department).




Alternative dispute resolution -


arbitration and mediation are alternative ways in which a dispute can be resolved, without going to court.




Beneficiary


someone who is entitled to a benefit (eg under a will or trust).




Bequest


a gift of money or personal property made in someone's will.





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©2019 Tom Evans