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Christmas and New Year is a time for many to be with family and friends but what about those people we meet in our professional lives who are lonely, or financially vulnerable in some way? The right advice and support from a professional contact can help a vulnerable person avoid financial abuse such as theft or fraud. Of course, although commonly associated with the elderly, “vulnerable adults” includes people with mental health problems, physical or learning disability, or illness. The signs of financial abuse may not be obvious but at Debenhams Ottaway, we have a track record in acting to stop it. We have the legal experience and specialist contacts to do this sensitively and effectively.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) allow the appointment of people to act on behalf of someone who cannot manage certain decisions and responsibilities in their lifetime. LPAs are relevant to all adults, of any age. They have become increasingly important as the risk of mental incapacity grows through a combination of illness, accident, or just old age.

But what happens if an adult already lacks the ability to make decisions for themselves and cannot make an LPA? In these cases, family or friends can be appointed as Deputies to make decisions on their behalf but if there are no family or friends, a lawyer can act as their Deputy to handle financial matters under the Court of Protection.

To ensure a vulnerable adult is protected in the future, setting up a lifetime trust may be advisable to make sure they are looked after financially. Alternatively, trusts can be set up in a Will to ensure their protection later.

Another important factor to consider is the funding of long term care. This may require advice on NHS Continuing Healthcare – a free package of care arranged and funded by the NHS for individuals who are not in hospital but who have complex ongoing healthcare needs; obtaining Local Authority funding; or the use of trusts in Wills to “ring-fence” assets.

At Debenhams Ottaway, we act for Attorneys, Deputies, family members and the individual themselves in relation to Lasting Powers of Attorney, the funding of long term care and trusts. Our clients come to us because they trust us to look out for them and many appoint us as their Deputies and Trustees.

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.