Court of Protection
We regularly advise on a wide range of issues involving the Court of Protection, which rules on the property and financial affairs, and the health and welfare, of people who lack mental capacity to arrange these matters themselves.
If you have concerns that an elderly or otherwise vulnerable person is no longer able to take legal decisions for themselves, Withers can offer guidance. ‘Dealing with issues that arise when someone has lost capacity to look after their own affairs can be incredibly difficult and requires not only a thorough grasp of the law but also extreme sensitivity to the situation. Our team regularly bring and defend applications in the Court of Protection and have unrivalled experience in both domestic and international matters,’ says Stephen Richards, a partner and member of the elder law team.
We try to avoid costly litigation but if it is in our clients’ best interests we have considerable experience in contested Court of Protection hearings, both bringing and opposing applications. For example we acted in Re MN , a dispute over the enforcement of a Californian order that MN, an elderly woman, be returned to California from England. Stephen Richards and partner Paul Hewitt acted for MN’s niece, who had brought her to the UK from the US, in what is still the leading case on cross-border welfare disputes in the Court of Protection.
Part of a bigger team
Working in close conjunction with colleagues in our wealth planning, probate and trust management teams, we can also advise on lifetime gifts and deeds of variation of estates that require an application to the court. We have a diverse client base of older people and their families and carers, as well as trustees, executors and other fiduciaries.
Members of the team are also able to act as a deputy where an independent professional is required. As a global law firm we are especially well placed to assist conservators of estates with interests abroad. For instance one of our US lawyers, John Farnworth, recently assisted a UK-based conservator whose ward had assets in the US, to deal with those assets. ‘Banks and other entities in the US can be reluctant to recognize a foreign appointment,’ he explains.
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