Later Life Planning and Wealth Management
Issues around Mental Incapacity
It is likely that all of us will experience mental incapacity at some point in our lives, whether of our self or someone we love. It can be an incredibly difficult situation, which typically evolves over a period of time, not just for the person concerned, but also those caring for them.
The pressure on carers, formal or informal, can be immense. A huge amount of effort is spent keeping your loved one comfortable and secure in the event of incapacity. There can be a physical and emotional toll as a result. It is also very common for relationships to suffer, where all are trying to do what they believe is best, but may be pulling in slightly different directions from one another.
Cognitive Law’s Richard Bates has, over the years, built up somewhat of a niche practice assisting families deal with the incapacity of a loved one – not just in terms of practicalities, but also in managing the tensions that result.
It is often the case that, whilst all parties have their loved-one’s interests at heart, they can, at times, lose focus, which can compound tensions and entrench views. The risks are that the person at the centre, the incapacitated person, can suffer due to the emotional toll, strained relations or indeed an ability to administer their affairs because of an ‘impasse’.
At its worst, matters can be brought to the attention of the Court of Protection for judgment. However, the Court has made it clear that it is there as a means of last resort. As such, individuals must work together to resolve differences and comprise before making any application. Not to use this approach can have significant and unexpected costs implications.
Our later life team can help all parties to understand the issues, keep focus on the incapacitated person and seek ways to resolve conflict, in a discreet, practical and pragmatic manner. This can range from general advice, all the way through to formal Best Interests Meetings, all of which may, if needs be, brought to the attention of the Court, should an application need to be made.
As mental capacity is such a ‘moveable feast’, sometimes assistance is required in understanding when attorneys or deputies should ‘step in’ and how to do this in a way which accords with the requirements of the Mental Capacity Act.
Our later life team has many years’ experience in assessing capacity, managing clients’ affairs and seeking ways to balance the needs of an incapacitated person with carers’ resources. We work with carefully chosen healthcare professionals, where necessary, to ensure that attorneys, deputies, carers and family members properly understand their duties and responsibilities.
If you would like advice on assessing someone’s needs, your duties to that person, or if you think tensions may get in the way of their care, contact our later life team on 0333 400 4499.