Partner | London
We have helped many families and trustees through the exceptionally difficult scenario where a person has lost capacity to make decisions for themselves. Our approach is to build consensus between parties, focusing on the vulnerable person’s own likely wishes.
As life expectancy continues to rise, so unfortunately do the financial risks and legal issues affecting older and vulnerable people.
Matters relating to the legal protection and the best interests of older people have the potential to be divisive, especially within families. For example, disagreements as to whether the head of a family business is losing their capacity to make sound decisions are increasingly commonplace.
As a family member or other representative of a vulnerable person, this is likely to be a challenging time for you. Decisions can be painful, more so where they are contested. It can be difficult to determine whether someone has lost mental capacity, and there may be others involved who disagree on how to handle the situation and who can make decisions where the person who has always decided in the past can no longer do so. For international families, there are likely to be complicated cross-border issues.
Our lawyers offer sympathetic, insightful advice and with team members in the United Kingdom, the United States, Hong Kong and Singapore, we are on the end of the phone if you need to discuss your legal options.
As well as the families and appointed representatives of older and vulnerable people, we regularly act for trustees, executors, charities and other professional groups. We are skilled in helping with all aspects of estate and tax planning and encourage our clients to consider the possibility of mental and/or physical decline before the situation arises and take action to ensure that their chosen representative is in place to take decisions should that time come. Sadly it is not always the case that the necessary provisions are put in place before incapacity, In that situation we specialize in applications to the Court of Protection. We can help to select a suitable attorney to make decisions if incapacitation becomes an issue, define that person’s role and build in safeguards where appropriate. We advise on disabled trusts and advance decisions to refuse medical treatment, also known as ‘living wills’.
As a firm that acts for families down the generations, we also offer understanding. We know how important clarity is in this situation and, while cases are rarely straightforward, our experience means that we can help you to prepare for the challenges ahead.
Where a vulnerable person is not able to take key decisions for themselves, a judge may appoint a conservator. We have long experience in this area and can talk through your situation and options.Estate planning, wills and succession
Whether you wish to protect family assets, navigate cross-border tax issues or benefit a good cause, our private client lawyers will discuss your priorities, advise on options and put a plan in place.Lasting powers of attorney
We believe everyone should complete a Lasting Power of Attorney – but it must be carefully considered, drafted and stress-tested. Our leading team are here to help you through the process.
We are here for you in the difficult situation where someone has lost capacity to take key decisions for themselves, routinely bringing and defending applications in the UK Court of Protection.Living wills
Living wills let you make legally binding decisions about your healthcare treatment ahead of time. We provide in-depth advice to clients, their carers and families on the choices available.
With a huge amount of legal and life experience in situations where someone may have lost the capacity to take important decisions, we can help you to establish the facts and find a solution.Will, estate and legacy disputes
As one of the only global law firms with a team dedicated purely to succession disputes, we offer families, friends, executors and charities guidance on all manner of challenges to wills.
Advising our client as attorney for her incapable mother under a registered Enduring Power of Attorney in the UK, she was seeking to sell a number of her mother's properties overseas on her behalf. She was not able to obtain the local jurisdiction order to enable her to do so because her mother was too ill to travel for the necessary medical assessment. We therefore created an innovative application to the UK Court of Protection based on the unusual scenario, using our international expertise.
When our client was diagnosed with an aggressive form of early onset dementia, he was forced to retire earlier than he or his family had expected and planned for. Leaving his job overseas and relocating to the UK brought about greater difficulties. We assisted his children as their father's attorney in resolving a complex retirement and permanent health insurance package with his employers. We also made an application to the Court of Protection for its approval of the package.
Preparing a Will in respect of a terminally ill individual with assets in jurisdictions including Hong Kong, Singapore and the US (value in excess of US$500m). The Will created a testamentary trust that, following the administration of the estate, allowed for assets to be decanted to a US trust. Following the testator’s death, we oversaw the administration of the estate.
We assisted our elder client who did not have an established estate plan and sadly became incapacitated. We were successful in obtaining the court approval to create an estate plan for him that ensured an efficient transition of his assets in accordance with his known wishes.
We represented the children of an elderly disabled man to successfully obtain a conservatorship and and help to return millions of US dollars of assets which had been wrongfully transferred from the elderly man by his second spouse.
In a sad case in which our elder client had been subject to financial abuse by one of their children, we were able to obtain a restraining order on their behalf to stop the ongoing abuse. We also appointed a support team to protect the client and ensure they had the right financial assistance.
Obtained dismissal of elder abuse claim by dispositive motion without the need for discovery or trial.
Withers helped an elderly client defeat aggressive efforts by her daughter to force her to endure a medical examination or submit to a guardian ad litem. Withers is often asked to zealously represent parties in California elder abuse actions in a variety of scenarios, including both those situations where the older person is still alive or is deceased.
Often, Living Wills are associated with people who wish to refuse treatment should they become seriously ill and lack capacity to make decisions. However in one instance we acted for a seriously disabled client who used her Living Will to request maximum treatment, preserving her life as long as possible.
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