Emmersons Solicitors - Newcastle and Sunderland
Jaqueline Emmerson Newcastle Solitor
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The Rise and Rise of Court of Protection Work.

 

Court of protection solicitors Newcastle and Sunderland

At Emmersons Solictors, we regularly monitor the number and types of cases that our fee earners are dealing with. What has amazed me over the last year is the huge rise in the number of Court of Protection cases that we have. I wondered why this was; there appear to be a few reasons.


We are known as specialists in Elderly Client work, we are one of few firms in the North to be members of Solicitors For The Elderly. Helen Miller has just passed another one of their stringent exams meaning that organisation will continue to signpost clients to us. She is also a Dementia Friend having had training to better understand how our clients and their relatives are feeling. Recently we were shortlisted for the Law Society Excellence Awards for our work dealing with Wills, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney and Court of Protection. We have managed to put North East Lawyers on the national expertise map. Only two firms in the North East have been shortlisted for these awards!

 

Emmersons Solicitors Dementia Friends


So with all that expertise and being known as specialists in our field, we would expect to be instructed regularly for Court Of Protection work. However, this does not explain the huge rise in the number of such cases with which we are dealing.


It would seem that with an ageing population, and the subsequent pressures upon social services departments, families are being signposted to solicitors more frequently. In other instances a family member will contact us because a care home needs to be paid money for the care of their relative or sometimes a concerned GP will advise the family to seek help ASAP if a patient has the early stages of dementia.


So What is the Court of Protection?

This is a court that deals with the affairs of people who no longer have the mental capacity to deal with their own affairs. It is for people who are unable to give instructions for a Lasting Power of Attorney. Most cases are dealt with by way of paper applications and orders granted without you having to attend the court. It is only usually in the case of dispute that there will be a court hearing.


Imagine your mother has advanced dementia. You have probably dealt with a crisis situation whereby she was admitted to hospital and shortly thereafter to a care home. It has now reached the stage where you have accepted that your mother needs round the clock care and so must stay in the care home permanently. As your mother has a house with equity, she will be self funding. But how are you going to sign the forms to agree to your mother paying for her care? Unless your mother had made a Lasting Power of Attorney granting you legal authority to deal with her affairs, you are going to be stuck.

You have no legal authority to sign an agreement to use her money for her care, you have no right to access her bank account, savings or investments and crucially you have no right to sell her home or rent it out in order to raise income.

That is the point when we will usually meet you for the first time. We would, as a matter of course, either contact your mother’s GP to ask them to confirm in writing that your mother no longer has sufficient mental capacity to deal with her affairs. Some GPs are simply too busy to deal with these requests, in which case we will use an expert independent doctor who prepares reports for us. The Court of Protection will not register an order unless we can prove incapacity.

The next step would be for us to apply on your behalf for you and up to three other relatives or friends, to become Deputies on behalf of your mother. Notably there can now be more than one Deputy. Thus you could have adult children and possibly the partner of the patient apply.


You must be able to prove that you are a suitable person. Eg a bankrupt would not be a suitable person. The court is looking for someone who can manage your mother’s financial affairs or deal with her welfare in a suitable fashion. Separate bank accounts and investments must be kept, you cannot put your mother’s money into an account with your own money. Once the court are satisfied that you can become your mother’s deputy they will issue an order that you can then show to banks and solicitors for conveyancing purposes.

However, all of this could have been avoided if your mother had appointed someone to be her Attorney as part of a Lasting Power of Attorney. This is a much cheaper and quicker method of achieving the same thing should your mother later lose mental capacity.


If any of the above applies to you or any member of your family then why not contact us at Emmersons Solicitors and take advantage of our expertise.


Contact us to discuss your situation in detail.


Court of Protection Solicitors - Newcastle:   0191 284 6989
Court of Protection Solicitors - Sunderland: 0191 567 6667


Author: Jacqueline Emmerson

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