As a Conveyancer, you are used to dealing with all types of property transactions, from the straightforward transactions to the more complex ones. However, sometimes property transactions vary from the norm and the steps involved can greatly differ.

This is especially true with elderly or infirm sellers, as they may not have sufficient mental capacity to conduct their own affairs and do not have anyone suitable to act as an Attorney or indeed their current Power of Attorney document may no longer be valid due to their current state of mind.

In such cases, the Court of Protection usually become involved. They stand in the place of the client with regards to instructing a solicitor in relation to the sale of a property and also sign the Contract and Transfer Deed as Deputy for the client.  The Deputy is appointed by the Court and is given specific instructions as to how they can act on behalf of the client.  The Court Order should specifically grant them consent to deal with the sale of the clients’ property due to them not having capacity to do so on their own.

The solicitor acting needs to ensure that they receive an office or certified copy of the Court Order and suitable ID for the Deputy.

When the solicitor acting issues contract papers, they need to specifically say that the Deputy is acting on behalf of the seller and ensure that a copy of the Order is sent with the Contract papers to the buyers’ solicitors.

The downside of such matters is that the Deputy often has little or no knowledge of the property and cannot therefore complete the protocol forms and is therefore usually unable to answer any enquiries.  I find it is always best to advise the buyers solicitors of this, at the onset when Contracts are issued to avoid any delays.  However, we do find that as solicitors, a certain amount of enquiries can be answered from the documentation within the title deeds or documents held on the file.

Over recent years I have acted on several sales via Deputy’s and indeed have also acted for them on a couple of occasions where they are purchasing a property for a client.  Such cases are usually where perhaps a client has had a serious accident or perhaps a brain injury and the Court appoints a Deputy to deal with their affairs.  The Court Order would then have to give consent to the Deputy to handle a purchase of a property as opposed to a sale.

If you would like to know more about any of the information mentioned in the article, please contact Dawn Owen, a Conveyancer in the Property Department in Paignton, by telephone on 01803 546119 or email dawnowen@wbw.co.uk. WBW Solicitors has offices in Newton Abbot, Exeter, Torquay, Paignton, Bovey Tracey, Launceston, Honiton, Exmouth and Sidmouth.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.