21 October 2019 - Article
England and Wales, 1987
Sweet & Maxwell’s Practical Will Precedents, the Living Wills Section of Volume 42 of Butterworths Encyclopaedia of Forms and Precedents and the Law Society’s Elderly Client Handbook
Tolleys Finance and Law for the Older Client and on the editorial board of Elder Law Journal (Lexis Nexis), consultant editor of and contributor
Julia is a contributor to International Protection of Adults published by Oxford University Press - 2015
Past chair of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Mental Capacity Special Interest Group
Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys Inc. (USA)
STEP England and Wales Regional Committee
All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia
Solicitors for the Elderly - Past Chair
Member of the Medico Legal Society
Me in a minute
I became an elder client lawyer on my wedding day in 1984
I act for older people and their families, friends, advisers, trustees and carers. Many of my clients lack the mental capacity to make decisions themselves. I do a lot of work with the Court of Protection which looks after the interests of people who are no longer able to manage their financial affairs or make decisions about their health and welfare themselves.
I became an elder client lawyer on my wedding day in 1984. I was waiting outside the church on a very cold December day when my aunt Mary arrived at the very last minute. In her early 60s, she was wearing a summer dress and sandals. My mother, looking at my aunt, commented ‘there’s something wrong with Aunty Mary’. She was right; it was early onset dementia and my aunt died within five years. The confusion, fear and uncertainty which her children - still all in their 20s and with no expertise in legal matters generally or mental capacity in particular - underwent over those five years in trying to set up the right legal and care arrangements was piteous to see. Realising, as I started my career, that older people needed special types of advice delivered in a special way I threw myself with a passion into developing elder law.
I advise many individual clients for whom capacity is beginning to be an issue and support their families and carers in putting the right arrangements in place for the future. I also advise families and carers where, sadly, it is too late and the person with capacity problems can no longer decide for themselves. The Court of Protection is a place where we go to find the best solution for everyone.
I have a particular interest in advising on elder law and capacity cross border. The increasing internationalism of families and wealth generally means that making sure that arrangements are in place in all the countries where people live and have their assets is really important, especially where laws may differ. I have been fortunate enough to be able to work with governments in Asia and the Caribbean in helping them update their laws.
In my spare time I have two passions; the island of Barbados and singing in choirs. A member of church choirs in England and Barbados I also sing in a choir performing 17th century psalms accompanied by period instruments.
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