When individuals have been assessed as lacking mental capacity to manage their own property and financial affairs a Professional Deputy is required. The role of a Professional Deputy is to manage the individual’s financial and property affairs in the best interests of the individual. As a Professional Deputy we manage the finances of individuals with complex cognitive difficulties. We are very aware of the difficulties encountered when living with a ‘hidden’ disability. We understand that where people cannot see an individual’s disability, such as a brain injury, that they do not always recognise it. Often individuals present very well and those around them do not acknowledge the disability, it means that an individual can become very vulnerable to the influence of those they surround themselves with.
Working closely with these individuals it is apparent that each person who lacks mental capacity can present themselves in a different way. With some of our clients their cognitive symptoms are very prominent, it is clear to all those around them that they are living with a brain injury and as such there is an understanding that the individual lacks mental capacity. However, we have many clients who present in a much more subtle way, they present themselves as if there are no cognitive issues and as such it becomes very difficult for those around them to tell that the individual is living with a brain injury.
In our experience we often find that the individuals who present well, who on the surface do not appear to be suffering with a brain injury, are the individuals that would be most susceptible to being taken advantage of. These individuals are often able to engage in complex discussions and present as though they understand issues that are being discussed. As a result, those around them often do not consider that they have any cognitive difficulties, they consider that the individual has the ability to make decisions. In these instances, if the individual were presented with an opportunity to invest in a business or if a family member or friend asked to borrow money from them, the concern is that the individual may agree, even if they do not have the capacity to fully understand the consequences of making such a decision. Where individuals have been awarded large sums of money following settlement of a claim there can be a concern that people around them may take advantage of their vulnerabilities.
In order to protect a vulnerable individual who is lacking capacity and has substantial funds, a Professional Deputy should always be appointed. The role of the Professional Deputy is to consider and deal with all issues in relation to the individuals’ property and financial affairs and to ensure that any decisions made are made in the best interests of the individual.