Lawyer Monthly - September 2023

court fees of £371 to be waived when seeking access to a CTF. However, it must be noted that if the application to the court also involves any other assets or income, then this will fall under the remit of a ‘standard’ deputyship application, and any associated court fees will more than likely be payable. Parents and guardians who apply to the court before their child’s 18th birthday already do not pay fees, unless the child has other substantial assets. The Ministry of Justice and HM Treasury are working closely with trust fund providers to ensure that parents are aware of this and can take necessary steps. Secondly, the government has made the process of applying to the Court of Protection to access such funds more streamlined, with simpler forms and further guidance provided. Thirdly, a small payments scheme was proposed by the government in November 2021 to try and help families access CTFs in small amounts. However, this has not been implemented due to the Mental Capacity Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation which was introduced after CTFs, which protects the person who lacks capacity against fraud and abuse. Fourthly, the Court of Protection has introduced an online portal to receive applications for the appointment of property and financial affairs deputies with the hope that this will reduce their current timescales of 12-18 months. The Court of Protection has also advised that it has aimed to simplify the application process for those requiring an order of this nature. This may provide some assistance to those families needing to apply to the Court of Protection to access their child’s CTF. What advice would you give to parents or guardians of a severely disabled 18-year-old on accessing their CTFs through the Court of Protection? Are there any other recourses available? It really is all about pre-planning prior to that crucial transitional period where a minor transitions to an adult. There are a great number of professionals working within this field who are very aware of this major issue which parents and guardians are facing. As a result, a number of these professionals have greatly reduced their usual fees for such applications or for such mental capacity assessments. For example, we as a firm have reduced our usual fees by half for such applications, whilst a number of independent mental capacity assessors or social workers that we usually commission have also reduced their fees greatly when it comes to the required mental capacity assessment for the court. These reductions, along with the usual court fee not being required to pay, make a real difference when it comes to cost for parents and are a great example of professionals working together for the greater good. It is thought that by 2029, all the CTFs will have matured and significant amounts of funds will be locked away in the CTF accounts. I would also advise to shop around and simply do your research. There are options out there for parents facing these issues, and there are also providers who are sympathetic to your cause. Lastly a toolkit has been issued to raise 48 LAWYER MONTHLY SEPTEMBER 2023

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