Elderly & vulnerable people
When might someone be considered vulnerable?
There are many reasons why someone might be considered vulnerable and in need of support. The individuals and families we help often need assistance as either they lack, or a loved one lacks, the ability to make decisions for themselves due to, for example, learning difficulties, old age, mental health problems or as a result of sustaining an acquired brain injury following an accident or medical negligence.
In all these cases it is vital that the individuals involved, and their families, have expert, trusted advice, which puts their needs first and ensures their access to the best and most appropriate help and support. Our team will consider these matters with you sensitively and professionally.
Areas where elderly or vulnerable people may need help
Capacity – there are a wide range of reasons why a person’s capacity might fluctuate, or they may lack the capacity to make important decisions about their finances, property, health and care. We have extensive experience in helping individuals and their families navigate issues relating to capacity, including:
• Answering queries to do with capacity, what is it and how it can affect your family and day to day decisions
• How to apply for a deputy to be appointed to act on behalf of a relative or friend
• Helping existing deputies make applications (e.g. for lifetime gifts, statutory wills and in connection with property transactions)
• Preparing Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)
Employment – one of the key benefits of working with a multi-disciplinary firm is that we can draw on expertise from across our departments. Our employment team can help vulnerable clients in a number of ways, including:
• Assisting vulnerable individuals who may have been discriminated against in the workplace
• Helping those living with dementia in the workplace
• Supporting the families of vulnerable clients with any employment issues relating to staff hired to care for loved ones.
Social care and support – we have considerable expertise in helping individuals and their families navigate the complexities of the health and social care system, to ensure they are getting the help and support they need. This includes:
• Community care and NHS Continuing Healthcare matters
• Compensation claims for poor care of the elderly
• Statutory care funding
• State benefits for the elderly
Advance decisions – also known as “living wills” – these let your healthcare team and other individuals know your wishes to refuse treatment in certain circumstances if you are not able to communicate those wishes yourself at the time the decision needs to be made. It is a highly personal document and it’s important to think about how this interacts with a health and welfare LPA.
Wills, trusts and estate planning – as one of the most well-known and respected law firms in the country for supporting clients with catastrophic brain injuries, we have a huge amount of experience in setting up and managing personal injury trusts for vulnerable clients. Working with our wider estate planning team, we also have expertise in estate and tax planning for elderly and vulnerable clients. This includes:
• Setting up a personal injury trust
• Setting up a trust for a beneficiary who is vulnerable (a vulnerable person’s trust)
• Preparing wills
• Applying to the Court of Protection for statutory wills
• Later life planning
• Disputes regarding wills and trusts
Accessibility, how we can best support you
We understand that you or your family may require extra support. All clients have the option to meet us either during a home visit or at our accessible office in Tunbridge Wells and Thames Gateway. We can increase the font size on all paperwork and we can arrange for multiple calls and/or meetings at a point in the day which suits you best to help support those who have concerns with their memory. One of our core values is to remove the legal jargon to enable you to make clear choices and reach well thought out decisions. For those who require it, we can also arrange for the support of an interpreter.
Frequently asked questions
What happens if someone loses capacity but has not made an LPA in advance?
An application can be made to the Court of Protection for a deputy to be appointed. Deputyship applications may be made by relatives or close friends of the vulnerable person, where the relative or close friend is the proposed deputy. Where there are no friends or family who are able or willing to act, or the circumstances are complex (perhaps a high value estate is involved, or relatives do not see eye to eye), an application can be made for the appointment of a professional deputy, such as a solicitor.
It is possible to appoint both property and affairs deputies and health and welfare deputies. The appointment of a financial deputy tends to be much more common than the appointment of a health and welfare deputy.
Where someone lacks capacity to make decisions about their finances, the only way in which decisions can be made on their behalf, in the absence of them having made an earlier LPA, is by appointing a deputy under a financial deputyship order. This order gives them the correct authority to act on behalf of the other person.
You can read more here; Frequently asked questions – Court of Protection
How do I prepare a trust for a loved one who is vulnerable?
A trust for a vulnerable person, just like any other trust, can either be prepared by you by way of a lifetime settlement into which you can transfer assets for the benefit of the vulnerable person or by your will when you die, in which case the terms of the trust would be set out in your will. Either way, you would need to think about who you might want to appoint to be the trustees of the trust given that they will be responsible for looking after the assets contained within it. While trusts sit within their own tax regime, trusts for vulnerable beneficiaries have slightly different rules which are softer than for most other trusts. For more information contact Simon Mitchell.
Can you receive compensation for poor care in a care home?
Finding that the care given to a parent or loved one is unacceptable, or, that they have been injured while living in a care home or in hospital is extremely distressing. Issues can include neglect by staff, injury, pressure sores or incorrectly administering medicines. If you have concerns about this please contact us on 01892 510000 or fill in our short enquiry form and we will assess your care of the elderly clinical negligence compensation claim.