Advising Vulnerable Clients
“Imaginative, forward thinking and immensely hard-working, time and again the team at Payne Hicks Beach achieve extraordinary results for their clients. They are absolutely at the top of their game when it comes to advising in cases involving the vulnerable. The attention to detail and their experience in identifying and obtaining the very best witness evidence against the tightest of deadlines is hugely impressive. There is a breadth and depth of talent in this team that makes them the first choice in this line of work”
Michael Mylonas QC, Serjeant’s Inn and the Lawyer’s “Barrister of the Year 2019"
Protecting those who are unable to make decisions for themselves is not only about safeguarding legal rights but also giving effect to very personal choices. At Payne Hicks Beach we approach this responsibility with the utmost sensitivity and discretion.
In England and Wales our clients benefit from the Court’s broad jurisdiction to protect those who are considered vulnerable. Classically that vulnerability has been defined in terms of mental capacity – defined by reference to the Mental Capacity Act 2005. But our experience extends further and includes applications relying on the Court’s inherent jurisdiction where no other remedy exists. In those cases we can use the Court’s powers to help clients who have run out of options in this and other jurisdictions.
Diminished capacity is an issue that can affect clients at any stage in life: necessarily, it is a feature of childhood but, for some, reliance upon others to make legal decisions will continue into adulthood. At the other end of the spectrum, we know that the probability of declining cognition increases dramatically in old age.
At Payne Hicks Beach we are able to advise individuals (and those acting on their behalf) at all stages of life on their capacity to make legal decisions – whether in relation to care, welfare and medical treatment; family relationships; or financial affairs. In doing so, we aim to work as closely as possible with family members, trustees, attorneys and deputies to ensure that we are, not only safeguarding the vulnerable client’s legal rights, but also giving effect to their wishes and respecting their autonomy as far as possible.
Inevitably, where crucial decisions are being made about matters of life and death or financial arrangements, disputes will arise. Our specialist dispute resolution solicitors and private client solicitors can assist in pursuing such issues in the Court of Protection, balancing the continuing requirement to give sympathetic advice and support to our clients while robustly protecting their position.
Our work includes:
- Estate planning to provide financially for family members lacking capacity
- Estate planning to ‘future-proof’ loss of capacity
- Drafting Wills and co-ordinating testamentary capacity assessments
- Preparing and registering Lasting Powers of Attorney
- Registering Enduring Powers of Attorney
- Statutory Wills
- Inheritance tax planning and gifts
Court of Protection and Contentious Capacity issues:
Property and Financial Affairs:
- Capacity determinations
- Best interests decision-making by the Court of Protection, including
- Applications for authority for gifting and inheritance tax planning
- Applications for appointment and/or replacement of a deputy
- Applications for the removal of a deputy
- Conducting litigation on behalf of those who lack capacity
- Capacity disputes in relation to companies, trusts and estates
- Challenging Wills for lack of testamentary capacity
Our specialist family lawyers are experienced in matters under the inherent jurisdiction of the family court, and on health and welfare disputes in the Court of Protection. They frequently act for children, incapacitated or learning disabled adults and their cases often involve family members, local authorities, healthcare bodies, individuals acting as Litigation Friends, and the Official Solicitor. They have particular experience in relation to deprivation of liberty, mental health and capacity, personal welfare applications, medical treatment applications and best interest decisions.
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