The years in the later part of one's life can be difficult and at times scary, as both health issues and concerns over finances can cause worry for people who no longer work or who may not have their family living nearby.
As the ageing population of this country continues to grow, issues involving the provision of long term care and the costs of that care are of increasing concern to people, particularly as their only income is from pensions, state benefits and investments.
Our team has considerable experience of advising older people, at a time when they may feel very vulnerable. Hilary Buckle, the head of our team is a member of Solicitors for the Elderly, which is an independent and national organisation of legal professionals who provide advice to elderly and vulnerable people and their families and carers.
We pride ourselves in offering a service which is appropriate for and recognises the needs of older clients; and when discussing and advising on legal matters, great care is taken to ensure that we understand and act upon our clients' instructions, given freely and independently from any pressure from relatives and friends.
Our work with elderly clients covers a wide range of matters including Lasting Powers of Attorney, making provision for long term care, finding out about care available at home, options for funding long term residential care, claiming state benefits such as Attendance Allowance, tax planning and lifetime giving, appealing against decisions relating to NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding and cases of financial abuse by relatives or carers.
For example, a client may have made an Enduring Power of Attorney to appoint someone to manage their property and financial affairs if they become unable to do so due to a physical or mental illness. However, until 2007 it was not possible to appoint an Attorney to make decisions about health and welfare issues, such as where a person lives and what medical treatment they receive. In 2007 a new document was created, called a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, which allows an Attorney to be appointed to deal with these matters, only if the person is not capable of making those decisions.
At the same time as assisting our client to make a Lasting Power of Attorney, we can advise about claiming all the state benefits to which our client is entitled and discuss any concerns they may have about how the future costs of residential care will be met.
Many people worry about funding the future cost of long term care but not everyone is liable for the costs of their care and for clients who have an acute medical condition, it may be that the cost of their care is met by the NHS. However the procedure for establishing this can be very complex and sometimes our client or their family believe the decision of the NHS to be incorrect. We can advise and assist with the appeals procedure where necessary. There are also occasions when, even after the person receiving the care has passed away, the cost of care can be claimed back from the NHS, if the original decision about funding was incorrect and we can assist the Executors of the person's estate with this.
Sadly, elderly people or those with physical or mental disabilities are vulnerable to financial abuse and when this occurs, it essential that legal advice is sought and that the relevant authorities are contacted as soon as possible. We can advise families or other interested parties who have concerns that abuse is occurring.
For further information about any of these issues, please contact our Private Client assistant Megan who will be happy to put you in touch with one of our solicitors.