Services for the Elderly and Vulnerable Clients
Most of us hope to live to a ripe old age, surrounded by loved ones and with some financial security. But achieving real peace of mind in later life involves considering some important legal matters in the form of Wills, Powers of Attorney, and planning for probate and estates after death.
There is also the reality that many elderly people now face: living with strokes, dementia and other limiting conditions, rendering them unable to handle their own affairs. Without provisions in place, affairs can be taken out of their relatives’ hands which can be distressing and costly.
Would your affairs be in good hands if you were suddenly unable to execute them yourself? Or are you on the other side, faced with handling matters for an incapacitated friend or relative?
In these situations, it is vital to find an experienced, reputable solicitor you can trust, who will support and advise you with delicacy and compassion. At HMG our calm, thorough and personable Private Client team will ensure you get the practical advice you need at what can be an emotional and overwhelming time.
We are highly experienced in handling matters patiently and sensitively, assisting elderly or vulnerable clients, their families or representatives with up-to-date advice tailored to personal and family circumstances.
Our Private Client lawyers are also all ‘Dementia Friends’, part of a national initiative run by The Alzheimer’s Society to spread awareness of the condition- another promise that we approach all our clients with genuine sensitivity and understanding.
Information on our Services
Where there’s a Will there’s a way… without one things get tricky.
Having an appropriately drafted Will with clear provisions and instructions is vital for anybody – not just the elderly – to ensure your possessions and estate are divided up as you would wish and avoid confusion amongst loved ones after your death.
Putting a Will in place provides you with peace of mind that your wishes will be respected, and potentially reduce inheritance tax and protect assets for future generations.
You might want to outline provision for specific beneficiaries, or make donations to charity. You might want to name the Executors of your Will, or legal guardians of your children.
You may wish to address more complex scenarios such as:
- providing for your spouse but ensuring that assets are protected for their benefit and the long-term benefit of your children/grandchildren.
- providing for your children but protecting your assets from relationship breakdown or financial difficulties.
- providing for a disabled or vulnerable child/grandchild and ensuring that any inheritance does not stop them from receiving the state benefits or funding to which they would otherwise be entitled.
Without a Will, ambiguities and complications can arise, and the authorities may revert to Rules of Intestacy under which only married partners, civil partners and certain close relatives can inherit your estate.
A self-drafted Will can be legally binding if signed and witnessed correctly. But if its instructions are incomplete or contradictory the Will can be contested or declared invalid.
A professionally drafted Will, on the other hand, leaves no room for error or confusion, ensuring everything is legally binding and any complex instructions are completely clear. It provides certainty for you, protects assets for your loved ones, and can guard against possible challenges to your estate in the future.
At HMG our expert, trusted team are highly experienced in advising on and drafting Wills, putting you at ease and providing pragmatic guidance on the provisions you wish to make, from the simple to the complex. Don’t put it off any longer; we’ll help tick the biggest thing off your to-do list and get a weight off your mind.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
Imagine that through accident, illness or old age you become unable to deal with your own affairs. Now imagine your family members try to step in, but find that none of them have the legal right to deal with your assets and make decisions on your behalf.
A distressing situation, in which they’d probably have to make an application to the Court of Protection to appoint a Deputy to deal with your affairs, a time-consuming and expensive process for all involved.
But this difficulty can be easily avoided. With Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) you can anticipate such events and put watertight provisions in place, legally appointing your chosen family members to act as Attorneys, i.e. representatives acting for you in the event of incapacity.
LPAs can be made in relation to your property and financial affairs – your bank accounts, pension, paying bills or selling your home); and/or your health and welfare – your day-to-day care, medical requirements, care home provision or life-saving treatment.
Sounding time-consuming or overwhelming? Our sympathetic, efficient solicitors can talk you and your family through every step of putting an LPA in place: advising on the best provision for your individual circumstances, translating the legal speak and preparing the documents you need.
We can advise on additional powers for your Attorneys over and above the standard forms, allowing them to carry out their role as successfully as possible. We can act as Certificate Provider confirming that you have the required capacity to make the LPA; and we can arrange the registration of the LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian.
Giving you every confidence you have future eventualities covered and your family prepared.
Registering an Enduring Power of Attorney
Prior to Lasting Powers of Attorney being introduced on 1 October 2007, you or your relative or friend may have made an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA).
An EPA made prior to 1 October 2007 can still be used by an Attorney to manage a person’s property and financial affairs.
However, once the person concerned has lost or starts to lose mental capacity, his/her Attorney is under a legal obligation to register the EPA with the Office of the Public Guardian. Failure to register the EPA in these circumstances could result in decisions made by the Attorney being invalid, and even result in personal financial liability for the Attorney.
But before this panics you, help is at hand. Our experienced solicitors can ably advise and assist you with the whole process of registering an EPA, ensuring that the correct forms are completed in the right order, and that the correct people are formally notified (a vital part of the process).
Making life a little bit easier at a stressful time.
Applying to be a Deputy
Have you found a friend or relative has become unable to deal with their affairs but has not put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney (or Enduring Power of Attorney, as they were previously known)?
The only way for you to get authority to deal with their assets and make decisions on their behalf is to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your relative or friend’s Deputy.
This process involves submitting various pieces of evidence and follows a strict timetable. The whole thing can take at least 4 months (even 6-9 months is not uncommon). Often an unforeseen and stressful scenario, the realisation of what’s involved has probably left you feeling overwhelmed.
Let us take away the stress and guide you seamlessly through the entire Court application process, our expertise and calm efficiency ensuring you tick every box along the way, and are fully aware of the costs, duties and responsibilities involved.
The Court application will require:
- full details of the incapacitated person’s, finances and family circumstances;
- a medical professional’s report confirming that the person lacks the relevant capacity (known as a COP3);
- a witness statement from the proposed Deputy (and possibly from other family members and people involved in the incapacitated person’s care) explaining why he/she is the best person to be appointed as Deputy; and
- any other evidence which will help to show that it is in the best interests of the incapacitated person for a Deputy to be appointed.
In addition, family members and anyone closely involved in the person’s life must be formally notified of the application according to a strict timetable.
But you don’t need to be an expert in all this: that’s what we’re here for.
With years of experience in this field, our dedicated team will ensure that you understand the small print and can provide all the paperwork, enabling your application to progress as quickly and as smoothly as possible. Meaning you can apply for the role of Deputy whilst juggling the rest of life too.
Acting as an Attorney (under a Lasting Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney) or as a Deputy (under a Court of Protection Deputy Order)
If a friend or family member has appointed you as an Attorney under either a Lasting Power of Attorney or an Enduring Power of Attorney (or as a Deputy under a Court of Protection Deputy Order), you might be feeling a little daunted.
But don’t let the sense of responsibility or legal requirements overwhelm you. Our deeply knowledgeable and sympathetic solicitors can advise and assist you throughout the course of your time in the role.
Whether you need initial advice giving you the confidence to take things forward on your own, or would like a helping hand throughout the process, we’d be delighted to support you.
We can help you contact organisations to arrange for an LPA to be recorded on their system giving you the access you need to accounts or investments; we can assist with tracing old investments; or simply be on hand to answer any ad hoc queries you may have as Attorney or Deputy.
Get in touch with our expert team today and feel a weight lifted off your shoulders.
Probate & dealing with an estate after death
Dealing with somebody’s affairs after their death can appear complicated and daunting at the best of times; even more so when you are yourself dealing with the grief of losing a relative or friend.
You may well not know what is involved, where to start, or who to talk to.
At HMG we are experienced in all aspects of probate and dealing with an estate, and can guide you with patience and sensitivity through all the requirements, easing the pressure on you at an emotional time.
Appointed as ‘executor’ (this role is known as an ‘administrator’ if the deceased did not leave a Will) will require you to:
- identify the assets and liabilities of an estate (by making reasonable enquiries and obtaining the appropriate probate valuations);
- arrange payment of any inheritance tax payable;
- apply for the Grant of Probate (or, where there is no Will, the Grant of Letters of Administration) which is the legal document formally authorising the executor/administrator to deal with the estate;
- collect in the estate assets;
- settle any estate liabilities and administration expenses;
- distribute the estate in accordance with the Will (or, where there is no Will, in accordance with the rules of intestacy);
- finalise the deceased’s lifetime tax position; and
- finalise the estate’s tax position during the period of estate administration.
Our lawyers can assist as closely as you wish with all of these steps, not encroaching on your independence but easing the administrative and legal burden.
Whether you would like us to deal with the estate from start to finish, or would prefer to have us at the end of a phone for ad hoc advice and assistance when needed, our approachable, knowledgable team and will be on hand to help.