During recent weeks you may feel as though the world around you has been turned on its head. We now find ourselves living under unprecedented restrictions in the face of the global Coronavirus pandemic that will no doubt have wide-reaching and long-lasting impacts.
Whilst there are positives to be taken from this event – more time with family and benefits to the environment – this remains a scary and difficult time for many; especially the most vulnerable members of our society. In this article, I hope to help reduce some of the anxiety by discussing some of the developments and changes with deputies and the Court of Protection.
How will COVID19 affect my deputy
Since the Prime Minister’s announced a UK lockdown on 23rd March 2020, most deputies are currently adjusting to working from home, and the challenges that this brings. You may be worried about what happens now, and whether your deputy can still manage your property and finances whilst working from home.
We are pleased to say that at Price Slater Gawne it’s business as usual.
Remote working is the norm for us since we are, and always have been since our establishment 10 years ago, a paperless office. This means that all of our solicitors and Court of Protection team can continue to work, ensuring that our client’s finances are managed in their best interests. Our sophisticated IT systems and infrastructure have enabled us to make the seamless transition to 100% home working without any disruption or delay to our clients and this has been very important given some of the additional challenges that our clients are encountering. We are used to being contactable via mobile phones and using video and telephone conferencing, which has made things easier during these difficult times. Furthermore, this means that there will always be continuity and a reliable point of contact for them.
All deputies should be making any necessary changes in order to ensure that their client’s interests are protected and maintained. The role of the deputy and the duties bestowed on them by the Court of Protection continue, despite the current challenges that we all face. If you are experiencing any uncertainty regarding this then you should contact the deputy in question and seek assurances, including contact arrangements and provisions to ensure that there is limited disruption.
Court hearings & documents:
The Court of Protection has issued several guidance documents and made swift adjustments to support practitioners during these unprecedented times. The Court has advised that – for the time being – all hearings will be conducted by telephone, video call or exchange of emails between the Parties and the Judge.
These changes in procedure by the Court will not affect any of our clients as we are well versed in conducting meetings and conferences via telephone and video call and already have the software in place to support the changes made by the Court. It is yet to be seen whether there will be any delays with Court timeframes but it is reasonable to expect some delay in the circumstances. Despite this, we are continuing to progress active applications and we are also filing new applications in respect of financial matters, including the appointment of a deputy. If you are contemplating an application to the Court of Protection it is still possible (and recommend in most cases) to proceed to file this with the Court, and we are on hand if you require particular advice or assistance.
There is no need to worry about any documents that require a signature before being sent to the Court, since in accordance with the Court guidance it can be signed electronically. We have systems and processes in place in order to ensure that this can be achieved without delay and would expect other deputies to have similar provisions in place.
Will my bills still be paid?
Yes, there is no reason that your bills cannot still be processed by the deputy provided that this is in the person’s best interests and affordable.
COVID19 will not impact on the day-to-day management of our client’s finances. There may be obstacles in progressing certain decisions – and these should be discussed clearly through various communication methods available – but there should be no delay in processing regular payments or paying bills.
At Price Slater Gawne everything will remain ‘business as usual’ and we will continue to manage accounts in the best interest of all our clients, in as efficient a manner as we possibly can.
What if we have a meeting scheduled?
Meetings can still go ahead as planned, but no longer in person. These will be conducted by telephone in order to ensure that we can continue to protect the health of our clients, their families and our team. However, we can offer face-to-face contact via video call if you feel more comfortable with this.
If you or a family member are concerned about anything within this article or how COVID19 might impact on an application to the Court of Protection, then please do not hesitate to contact me via one of the following methods: