PROTECTION, PLANNING AND DISPUTE RESOLUTION FOR THE VULNERABLE
20 / 07 / 2018
Wedlake Bell is a central London law firm that has been servicing its clients for over 200 years. It has 61 partners and is one of the top 100 firms in the UK on turnover.
Wedlake Bell’s Private Client Team is one of London’s longest established and most experienced Private Client teams and has been recognised for the sixth year as one of the top 25 Private Client firms. The team’s expertise spans a range of fields including Wills and estate planning, trusts and estates and administration, contentious probate and trusts, offshore and international, and charities. A key area which frequently overlaps with one or more of these areas are our services for elderly or vulnerable clients.
Protection and Planning for Vulnerable Clients
We have specialists within the team who advise on how to provide for, and protect the interests of, individuals who may lack mental capacity to manage their affairs and make decisions for themselves.
A lack of mental capacity may be due to:
- a stroke or brain injury;
- a mental health problem;
- a learning disability;
- confusion, drowsiness or unconsciousness because of an illness or the treatment for it; or
- substance or alcohol misuse.
We can offer guidance and support to those who are:
- concerned about the ability of someone to manage their financial affairs or make decisions about health and welfare issues;
- responsible for managing someone’s financial affairs or making decisions about health and welfare issues; and
- concerned about their own ability to manage their own affairs.
We can advise clients on:
- planning for incapacity – including preparation of Lasting Powers of Attorney (“LPA”) and Advance Directives for Healthcare (or “Living Wills”);
- general management of financial affairs – we can assist attorneys acting under an LPA as to their powers and duties to manage the donor’s financial affairs including their power to make gifts;
- providing for vulnerable beneficiaries via trusts – to assist families concerned about continued provision for a dependent loved one who may have difficulties in managing cash or assets due to incapacity; and
- protection of vulnerable individuals via the Court of Protection – this can involve non-contentious applications such as the appointment of a family member as a deputy for a vulnerable person; however, it can also involve disputes relating to the protection of a vulnerable person as detailed further below.
Dispute Resolution for Vulnerable Clients
Advising on contentious situations relating to a vulnerable person and making related applications to the Court of Protection is a key part of our specialism in this area of work. We have lawyers within the team who are experts in dispute resolution in the context of vulnerable client work as well as in inheritance, trusts and probate.
Disputes in the vulnerable client sphere can relate to a wide range of issues. Amongst the most common are:
- removal of attorneys/ deputies – this situation could arise where an attorney or deputy is suspected of financial abuse by taking advantage of their position in using the donor’s money for their own benefit or otherwise not acting in the best interests of the donor. We can advise on making an application to the Court of Protection for the attorney to be removed and replaced;
- disputes over living arrangements and contact – where families do not agree on decisions made about where and with whom a person who lacks mental capacity should live, have contact with or marry, our specialist team can provide expert advice and assistance at any stage of the process, from capacity assessment of the vulnerable person to representation at Court; and
- medical treatment – disputes can range from medical treatment challenges, to end of life decisions and decisions to withdraw life sustaining treatment. In many cases an urgent application to the Court of Protection may be necessary.
Our dispute resolution experience means we can act for individuals or groups, including where the dispute involves cross border issues.
Disputes are likely to be stressful so we aim for an early resolution – using alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, wherever possible.