If you are acting as a property and affairs Deputy, you will almost certainly need to submit an annual report of your activities to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). The first report is usually due for completion 12 months after your appointment and then annually.
You will usually have a period of two months from the anniversary date of your appointment in which to submit your report. If you need more time, the OPG may grant you an extension but you must have good reasons.
The following top 10 tips will help you file on time and avoid any enquires or visits from the OPG:
- Make sure you are accounting for the right period
- Keep a diary about the decisions you have made
This may sound obvious but it’s important to make sure you provide figures for the right period and that the starting balance is the one you finished with last year, unless it is your first account.
It can be difficult to remember all the decisions you’ve made throughout the course of a year, so keeping a diary will help. It doesn’t have to be too complicated but the OPG will want to know:
- What decisions you’ve made as a Deputy
- How you involved the person you represent (known as ‘P’)
- Who else you consulted before making decisions and why you consulted them
The OPG will want to know how frequently you visited P and who else has visited them, so it’s important to keep a record.
You may need to obtain information from a number of different sources so it’s important to look through the form ahead of time to get the details you need. This may include details from:
- mortgage provider
- financial advisor who manages any investments
- Court Funds Office (if funds are held there)
- Trustees of any trust which P benefits from
- Person or organisation that P owes money to
P’s assets will need to be declared, so it’s important to keep a record of assets acquired and disposed of throughout the year so that your list is up-to-date at year end.
As a Deputy, it is your duty to claim any benefits or other statutory funding that P is entitled to. You also need to be able to show that the right amounts are being paid. Entitlement to state benefits changes over time, so an annual benefits review is recommended. If P is receiving funds from the Local Authority or Clinical Commissioning Group make sure that their entitlement reflects their needs and if these have changed during the year, seek a review.
If P is receiving care from a commercial provider, make sure you request an up-to-date care plan as the OPG will want to know this is in place.
The OPG will need an approximate value for items such as cars and other personal assets and investments which aren’t managed by professionals, including shares. You may be able to value these assets using websites such as reputable motoring service organisations, trade press, banks or the company where shares are held.
Try to avoid the ‘carrier bag’ method of record keeping. Sorting through a bag of receipts at the end of the year can be hard work and stressful. Instead, a spreadsheet on your computer is a good way of keeping a record or even a simple paper record showing the date of the payment, what it was for and the receipt number will still help. Make sure your records are divided into the same categories as the report form (listed on pages 27 and 29). If you do store information on a computer, make sure it is password protected.
Ensure you manage all financial transactions through your Deputyship bank account and don’t mix P’s funds with any other account, including your own. If you do make a financial transaction for P using your own funds, make sure there is a clear record of how this happened and how it was resolved so that you can demonstrate this to the OPG.
Produced by Christine Bunting of Hyphen Law
Brain Injury Group member firm Hyphen Law is a specialist Court of Protection law firm focusing on Deputyship Services and Personal Injury Trusts. If you need any help with the preparation of your annual report, please get in touch.
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