"Your efforts in providing clear and timely advice have been so helpful to us all. We cannot recommend you highly enough."
Veronica specialises in financial management for people with a physical or mental disability, including those who have received damages awards. She has over 20 years’ experience in Court of Protection Practice and manages financial applications to the court; including those for Statutory Wills, lifetime gifts and the exercise of trustee powers. She also has particular success in applications for the appointment of personal welfare deputies where families are caring for learning disabled adult children.
Veronica advises parents and other relatives on structuring their estates to provide for children and other beneficiaries with disabilities. Veronica also prepares Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney and advises on a range of elderly client matters.
Court of Protection & Deputyships
Applications to the Court of Protection for the appointment of Personal Welfare Deputies
It is important that parents who have cared for a child who lacks capacity by reason of a learning disability throughout their childhood, can continue to be legally empowered to make medical and care decisions on their behalf once their child reaches the age of 16. They need to be appointed by the Court of Protection as the child’s Personal Welfare Deputies to enable them to do so. Personal Welfare Deputyships are not routinely granted but, Veronica has many years’ experience of drafting applications that carry weight with the Court.
Those who manage the finances of people who lack capacity, either as attorney or as deputy in the Court of Protection, do not have authority to make certain financial arrangements without the permission of the Court of Protection. Such arrangements may become necessary because of a change of circumstances not anticipated by the person when they had capacity.
Veronica specialises in making applications to the court, requesting authority for a deputy or attorney to make gifts on behalf of a person who lacks capacity, or to sign a will on their behalf. These applications are extremely detailed and require a sound knowledge of the principles the Court and the Official Solicitor will apply when considering them. They need to be positioned carefully, as it is possible for an application to be opposed by those who may have an interest in the person’s estate.
Veronica has been making such applications for over 20 years and has insight into what will, and what will not be acceptable to the Court. She can advise a client on how best to position an application to achieve success.
- Veronica helped parents whose child was about to enter into independent supported living for the first time. They were concerned that although their daughter lacked capacity to make medical decisions for herself, as she was over the age of 16, her new doctor would not be able to share medical information about their daughter with them. The parents were appointed as Personal Welfare Deputies for their daughter, which enabled her doctor to discuss her health problems with them and empowered them to make any decisions about treatment that became necessary. It also helped them to work with the new care providers during the transition period, using their years of experience of caring for her at home to point them in the right direction as and when necessary.
- An elderly lady lacking capacity lived in a care home. She had been a consultant doctor during her working life and was in receipt of a pension income – which would more than cover her care home fees for the rest of her life. She had sold her home leaving her with liquid capital assets she would never need, but which would result in a large inheritance tax bill when she died. Veronica advised the attorney on making an application to the Court of Protection for authority to make life time gifts on her behalf following the terms of her will. The lady survived the approved gifts by seven years resulting in a saving of several thousands of pounds in inheritance tax.
Personal Injury Trusts
When a person with mental capacity receives compensation for a personal injury, for example following a road traffic accident, it is often the case that they have not been able to work and are reliant on means tested benefits. A Personal Injury Trust serves to legitimately ring fence any compensation, so that it does not impact the claimant’s entitlement to state provision through means tested benefits.
The rules concerning the interface of Personal Injury Trusts with means tested benefits is complex. Veronica is experienced in the law and rules relating to Personal injury Trusts and she sets up trusts quickly and effectively when required.
- A woman who had been awarded damages for medical negligence was unsure whether or not it was worth making a Personal injury Trust to receive the award. Although the award was modest, Veronica advised that if it was not held in trust, she would become ineligible for her benefits. Furthermore, she may find it difficult to have them re-instated once she had spent her award. Also important was the fact that she was already feeling pressure from friends and neighbours who knew she was about to receive her award and might ask her for financial assistance. Veronica advised that she would have protection from such requests if trustees held the funds rather than her. The woman felt more secure once she had set up the trust and no longer feared notifying the benefits agencies about her change in circumstances, as she would still be eligible to receive her benefits as before. Friends and neighbours would be less likely to ask her for money once they knew that trustees were in control of her award.
Wills & Lasting Powers of Attorney
A concern of parents of children with disabilities is how to make provision for in their wills. Leaving money directly to a child under disability is rarely the right thing to do. Veronica has experience in drafting wills incorporating Discretionary Trusts and Trusts for the Disabled so that an inheritance will not impact a beneficiary’s eligibility for the state provision they are entitled to.
- Parents who have one disabled child and two non-disabled children were uncertain how to divide their estate between the three children. Veronica advised them to incorporate a discretionary trust in their wills. This would provide flexibility so that their wills would cater for the different needs of their children as they grew up, with direction provided by a side letter from the parents.
- An elderly gentleman living in a care home with his wife wished to make a Will following his diagnosis of terminal cancer. Unfortunately, his wife lacked capacity to manage her financial affairs. The husband needed to sell their house to fund the care home fees. We advised that as the couple held the property as joint tenants, a new trustee would have to be appointed in place of the wife before contracts for a sale could be exchanged. Also, a Deputy for Property and Affairs would have to be appointed to manage the wife’s share of the sale proceeds. Both of these matters required applications to the Court of Protection.
- Society of Trusts & Estate Practitioners
- Solicitors for the Elderly
“Your efforts in providing clear and timely advice have been so helpful to us all. We cannot recommend you highly enough.”
“I wanted you to know how much we appreciated the expertise and professionalism displayed by Veronica and her team…I have no doubt that we would not have been successful without your help.”
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