Do you want to make decisions for someone who lacks mental capacity?


You can apply to become someone’s deputy if they ‘lack mental capacity’. This means they can’t make a decision for themselves at the time it needs to be made. They may still be able to make decisions for themselves at certain times.

People may lack mental capacity because, for example:

  • they’ve had a serious brain injury or illness
  • they have dementia
  • they have severe learning disabilities

As a deputy, you’ll be authorised by the Court of Protection to make decisions on their behalf.

Types of deputy

There are 2 types of deputy.

Property and financial affairs deputy

You’ll do things like pay the person’s bills or organise their pension.

Personal welfare deputy

You’ll make decisions about medical treatment and how someone is looked after.

You can’t become someone’s personal welfare deputy if they’re under 16. Get legal advice if you think the court needs to make a decision about their care.

The court will usually only appoint a personal welfare deputy if:

  • there’s doubt whether decisions will be made in someone’s best interests, for example because the family disagree about care
  • someone needs to be appointed to make decisions about a specific issue over time, for example where someone will live

Read the full guidance about when you need to make a personal welfare application.

Becoming a deputy

You can apply to be just one type of deputy or both. If you’re appointed, you’ll get a court order saying what you can and can’t do.

When you become a deputy, you must send an annual report to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) each year explaining the decisions you’ve made.

How to apply

Check you meet the requirements to be a deputy.

Send the application forms to the Court of Protection and pay the application fee.

You don’t need to be a deputy if you’re just looking after someone’s benefits. Apply to become an appointee instead.

Checks on your application

The Court of Protection will check:

If you’re appointed, the Office of the Public Guardian will help you carry out your responsibilities.

You’ll continue to be a deputy until your court order is changed, cancelled or expires.

Other ways to make decisions for someone

If you want to make a single important decision, you can apply to the Court of Protection for a one-off order.

If the person already has a lasting power of attorney (LPA) or enduring power of attorney (EPA), they don’t usually need a deputy. Check if they have an LPA or EPA before you apply.

Who can apply to 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

The court will tell you how to make decisions if you’re not the only deputy. It will be either:

  • together (usually called ‘jointly’), which means all the deputies have to agree on the decision
  • separately or together (usually called ‘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.


As a deputy, you’re responsible for helping someone make decisions or making decisions on their behalf.

You must consider someone’s level of mental capacity every time you make a decision for them – you can’t assume it’s the same at all times and for all kinds of things.

You’ll get a court order from the Court of Protection which says what you can and can’t do. There are also general rules and examples in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice.

Guidance for all deputies

When you’re making a decision, you must:

  • make sure it’s in the other person’s best interests
  • consider what they’ve done in the past
  • apply a high standard of care – this might mean involving other people, for example getting advice from relatives and professionals like doctors
  • do everything you can to help the other person understand the decision, for example explain what’s going to happen with the help of pictures or sign language
  • add the decisions to your annual report

You must not:

  • restrain the person, unless it’s to stop them coming to harm
  • stop life-sustaining medical treatment
  • take advantage of the person’s situation, for example abuse them or profit from a decision you’ve taken on their behalf
  • make a will for the person, or change their existing will
  • make gifts unless the court order says you can
  • hold any money or property in your own name on the person’s behalf

Read the full article