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 safeguard
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.
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.
Set up a trust
Trusts are another way in which assets can be protected for
vulnerable 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.
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.
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
With the approaching era of driverless cars and shopping delivery by drone, some have predicted that the role of lawyers will be greatly changed by technological advancements in artificial intelligence.
Leading family lawyer Sharon Ser, alongside professional support lawyer Philippa Hewitt, have recently contributed a chapter on Hong Kong family law to a new guide comparing family law around the world.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).