Safeguarding of vulnerable adults
Some adults are less able to protect themselves and have difficulty making their wishes and feelings known, making them vulnerable to abuse. Anyone can be a victim of financial abuse, broadly speaking a violation of an individual’s rights relating to their finances or other assets.
But what can be done to prevent such abuse and to help the safeguarding of vulnerable adults? Below are some top tips for a person to help themselves or, where they are incapable of making that decision, where others can help them.
1 Sign a Lasting Power of Attorney
While an adult has mental capacity they should make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). There are two types: Property and Financial Affairs and Health and Welfare. A person can appoint attorneys to step into their shoes and make decisions for them if they are incapable of doing so themselves.
The person who makes an LPA is known as ‘the donor’ and they can decide on who should look after their affairs. Where they cannot think of anyone, then a professional appointment can be made, such as a lawyer.
The powers contained within LPAs are varied but they can be refined to suit the wishes of the donor. This is a recommended course of action for the safeguarding of vulnerable adults.
2 Set up a trust
Trusts are another way in which assets can be protected for vulnerable adults and beneficiaries and there can even be some tax advantages as well. This could be useful if a person has come into money, has mental capacity, but needs help in managing the pot.
Trusts can hold a wide range of assets from property and shares to family heirlooms. A trust is created when you give assets to people you choose (the trustees) to hold for the benefit of others (the beneficiaries). It can be set up during your lifetime (by using a trust deed) or upon death (by inclusion in your Will) and can be used as a practical tool for inheritance tax planning.
3 Apply to be a person’s deputy
If there is no valid Lasting Power of Attorney then an application has to be made at the Court of Protection. This will allow the person making the application to take control of another’s finances and make welfare decisions for them. The Court of Protection exists to protect a vulnerable person in both financial and personal welfare matters. If successful in the application then the deputy has similar powers to those held by an attorney. By becoming a deputy for your loved one’s affairs, you can make important decision on their behalf, for example selling their home to pay care home fees.
4 Make a Will
Signing a Will ensures your affairs are dealt with as you wish after your death. You can choose who will be in charge of winding up your estate (the executors) as well as who will inherit your estate (the beneficiaries). And if the person who would make a Will (the testator) has lost mental capacity then an attorney, deputy or other person could seek advice on applying to court for a ‘statutory Will’ on their behalf.
Debenhams Ottaway works with attorneys, deputies, family members and the individual themselves in the funding of long term care, including NHS continuing healthcare. We have built relationships with local providers of domiciliary care and independent financial advisers who specialise in providing advice for the elderly and the funding of long term care. We work closely with the NHS and other healthcare and community service providers to keep vulnerable adults safe.
You can find more information on the safeguarding of vulnerable adults on the Debenhams Ottaway website here.
For more information or advice please contact
Susan Glenholme, Partner
T: 01727 735636