Solicitors and the vulnerable: ensuring your relatives are safe

By Gail Hall

Your relatives and dependents are the most important people in your life and deserve the best legal protection available. This is particularly important if they are elderly or vulnerable through disability, mental illness or injury. If you have a vulnerable relative who needs special legal help, you may want to consider instructing a solicitor who is used to dealing with vulnerable clients.

Why you need a specialist solicitor

If you are worried that an elderly relative can no longer manage their affairs because of age or dementia, or you have an adult child who is unable to make their own decisions, you will understandably want a caring solicitor who can offer advice, in a sensitive considerate way.

The legal issues that elderly and vulnerable clients face can be fairly complex. They involve overlapping areas of law such as wills and trusts, powers of attorney, property and the Court of Protection. There are also administrative and practical matters to consider including local authority funding and NHS assessments. A specialist solicitor versed in dealing with vulnerable clients will be used to working with outside agencies, where necessary, to achieve the best outcome for their client.

Practical steps a specialist solicitor can take

The experienced solicitors at Warners know how to effectively protect elderly and vulnerable clients who could be at risk. We can put safeguards in place to ensure decisions are made in the best interests of the client.

Decisions about a client’s property and money or health or welfare cannot be made by someone else without formal legal authority.

If the client has already lost their mental capacity an application will need to be made to the Court of Protection so that a deputy can be appointed. The Court of Protection will decide on the appointment of the deputy so it could be someone the client would not ordinarily choose to make such decisions. Deputy applications are generally complex and time consuming and therefore can be quite expensive.

If the client still has mental capacity we would recommend putting in place lasting powers of attorney (LPAs). This allows the client to choose who will be in charge of the decisions that are made after they lose capacity. LPAs are also a lot easier and cheaper than making an application to the Court of Protection.

Depending on their mental capacity, your loved one should make a will if they do not have one. Again, we can help with this. As specialist solicitors, we are equipped with the tools and resources to help you and your elderly and vulnerable relatives with care and compassion whatever their needs.

For further information, please contact Gail Hall in the elderly and vulnerable client team on 01732 770660 or email g.hall@warners.law. Warners Solicitors has offices in Tonbridge and Sevenoaks, Kent.

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.

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