Elderly and vulnerable people

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.

Someone to talk to

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.

With more than 100 years’ experience in helping individuals and families, our lawyers offer sympathetic, insightful advice. Julia Abrey, a partner who focuses on elder law, and members of our team have helped to shape and continue to provide guidance on the development of fundamental aspects of elder law. Issues relating to a person’s capacity to take legal decisions are a particular strength, and we are top-ranked in legal directories for our handling of these sensitive matters. 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.

For further help or information

Get in touch


Top ranked in Band 1 for Court of Protection

Top ranked in Tier 1 for Court of Protection

Finalist for STEP 2017/2018 Awards for Vulnerable Client Advisory of the Year


They are very good – really friendly, professional and really respectful.

Chambers UK 2017, London

It’s always a delight to work with them. They are very good in the quality of the work and you know it will be properly handled.

Chambers UK 2017, London

Withers LLP ‘excels both in the domestic sphere and on complex cross-border issues’, and is singled out for its strength in depth in elder law.

Chambers UK 2017, London

Rencontrer l’équipe

Help with...


Cross border issues relating to Dementia

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.

An elderly client in California

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.

A client using a Living Will

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.

Application to the Court of Protection on international assets

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.

Elder abuse claims

Obtained dismissal of elder abuse claim by dispositive motion without the need for discovery or trial.

Obtaining a conservatorship

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.

Incapacitated and no estate plan

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.

Restraining order for elder client

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.

Preparing a Will

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.

Would you like to hear more from us?

Visit our subscriptions page to tell us a bit more about what you’re interested in so we can send you relevant news.