By Debbie Morrell-Williams, Solicitor at Linder Myers Solicitors
At Linder Myers Solicitors we specialise in elderly client matters. The majority of our elderly clients are lucky to have family members involved with their day to day affairs and are be able to remember their family and financial circumstances sufficiently to be able to inform us of their wishes and feelings. However, more and more frequently clients who have been referred to us will sadly have no meaningful recollection of their family or other individuals with whom they are closely associated and/or have insufficient understanding of their financial circumstances. In these matters, there is little information readily available to assist the deputy with their general financial management role.
It is important to remember that Dementia and Alzheimer’s can be detrimental to some relationships. The lack of response to calls and letters for example, as well as unexpected reactions or unusual exchanges, can be confusing for those involved with the sufferer. Some friends and family members can be deterred when statutory services become involved with P, sometimes feeling like they are no longer needed or feeling like they have perhaps done something wrong.
For useful information about how these illnesses impact P, their carers and family, it is useful to visit:
A deputy has a duty to investigate P, this extends to P’s assets and they also the deputy also has a positive obligation to stay in touch with family members, they also need to ascertain wishes and feelings, both past and present and document these on the client file.
How can the Will assist the deputy in their role?
In performing their role a deputy should have regard to the Office of the Public Guardian-Deputyship Standards, a link to which can be found at:
The standards are comprehensive and are updated from time to time, they form a useful tool in ensuring the service the deputy provides for P meets what is expected of them, the standards include but are not limited to:
- 1A.(1) safeguarding assets
The Will may be useful in this regard, it may have reference to the size of the estate and specific legacies and also items of value that are anticipated to form part of it, which is information that is invaluable to a deputy in safeguarding P’s assets.
The deputyship standards also confer a positive duty on the deputy to:
- 2 (3) Discuss P’s wishes and feelings, both past and present
- 2 (5) maintaining regular contact with P, their carers and family members
Additionally, the Will usually includes the names of beneficiaries of P’s estate and whether it is a person or organisation, this information can give the deputy a good starting point for discussion with P, the information can sometimes jog a memory that can help prompt P to engage. Therefore, the Will is often a good starting place for the annual meeting preparations, especially where information is limited or where the deputyship is in its infancy. Where P cannot engage the information can still useful in locating contacts and giving an insight in to P’s wishes and feelings at the time it was drafted.
It is possible that a Will can give details of previous addresses, surnames and previous relationships of P. Where the Will has been professionally drafted it gives details of the firm of solicitors that P instructed and therefore, for example, if “P” owns an unregistered property, the Will can sometimes be beneficial in locating the deeds also it can be useful to discuss P with the solicitor involved with the drafting, as they may be aware of other information relating to P, not contained in the Will.
As part of the initial deputyship standards protocol, it is good practice to make enquiries about P’s Will and to consider the next steps in relation to it. Where P is elderly, it is even more important to consider the Will and where a Will cannot be located a simple search conducted with the National Will Register  is often beneficial in determining the next steps. If you are considering preceding with a Statutory Will it is also a necessary to ascertain if there are previous Wills in existence before you progress the application, conducting a Certainty Will Search with the National Will Register is an important step in the process.
If you have any questions regarding deputyships or require expert advice in relation to Court of Protection matters, Lasting Power of Attorneys or later life estate planning please don’t hesitate to contact the Court of Protection and Trusts and Estates Specialists at Linder Myers Solicitors, a Top 500 Law firm with offices throughout the UK: https://www.lindermyers.co.uk/about-linder-myers-solicitors .