Helping you support your loved ones
SFE members can help you to take care of your parents, relatives, vulnerable adults or children
As we are all living longer, the instances of degenerative diseases and loss of mental capacity are on the increase. We all hope this will not happen to us or our loved ones, but if it does, we need to be well prepared.
SFE members are specifically trained to provide legal services to and support people with Dementia, Parkinson’s and other degenerative diseases, as well as people who may have problems with the hearing, sight, mobility and capacity. Our members are trained to spot signs of neglect and abuse and will always ask to see their clients alone to ensure they are not being pressured or coerced into making decisions which may not be in their best interests.
All our SFE Full Accredited Members have achieved the SFE Older Client Care in Practice Award. This is our additional highly specialised qualification which gives our members an in depth understanding of older clients, their key issues and how best to support and advise them.
What are the options?
All SFE members can offer vital support and legal advice for the elderly to ensure that the right steps are being taken. There are several elements your loved ones can put in place which will help you to support them in times of crisis.
If they still have capacity to make decisions, they can make an LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney). This will allow them to choose who they would like to make decisions on their behalf if they no longer can. (more details below)
If their mental capacity is fluctuating, they still may be able to make an LPA.
If they no longer have capacity, then you will need to arrange to have a Deputyship put in place. This must be done through the Court of Protection and is a more complex procedure than an LPA. SFE members can help you with this.
Lasting Power of attorney (LPA)
An LPA enables your loved ones to nominate people to make decisions on their behalf if they become unable to. There are two types of LPA – the first covers financial decisions. The second covers health and welfare decisions – they may need both.
SFE members can advise on the type of document they may need, who to choose as their Attorney and safeguards to protect them from the misuse of the LPA, and draft it to suit their particular circumstances and needs.
Without an LPA, if they lose mental capacity to make decisions, they might have no control over who is making decisions for them. It could be significantly more expensive, cumbersome and time consuming for you to be legally able to make those decisions on their behalf.
This is the domain of both a financial adviser and a lawyer. It is important to seek advice which will help your loved ones plan for various scenarios: remaining in their own home, moving into sheltered or care home accommodation.
They will have certain legal entitlements which an SFE member can advise you on including their entitlement to benefit support. This could take the form of welfare benefits, social funding, or equipment from social services and health care, funded by the NHS.
The rules are complex, but an SFE member will be able to provide advice to maximise what they receive from the state and avoid using their own assets unnecessarily.
A Will enables your loved ones to decide what happens to their property and possessions after their death. They can also set out what funeral arrangements they would like including, for example, if they would prefer charitable donations to their favourite charity as opposed to flowers.
Without a Will, their assets may be distributed according to ‘the intestacy rules’ rather than their wishes.
An SFE member can advise them and draft their Will to be so that it is tax and administratively efficient and reduce the risk of a claim being made against the estate.
By making timely gifts or putting assets into trust whilst they are still alive, your loved ones can pass on their estate before they die.
Any proposed gift needs careful consideration of the benefits, risks and implications on tax, their financial security and any future liability for care. It is dangerous to make a gift without getting the right advice, as you may find that they are denied state funding at the time they most need it.
An SFE member will be able to advise on this.
Advance Decisions/Living Wills
An advance decision enables your loved ones to set out details of any medical treatment they do not want in the event they are later unable to communicate their wishes.
SFE members can draft the document and advise on how it applies in practice.
Why use SFE?
SFE is a national association of independent lawyers who specialise in legal advice for the elderly.
As specialists, SFE members are also trained in older client care so that they are able to take into account any difficulties both mental and physical which can affect older and vulnerable clients and are aware of the health and social problems that people may face.