Updated: Apr 21
The case of a conveyancing solicitor selling a woman's property when there were doubts about the person's capacity highlighted the need for better protection of our most vulnerable society.
Whereas many private client solicitors, possibly due to their close relationship with the court of protection, are used to employing mental capacity assessors for supporting clients with wills, lasting powers of attorney and deputyship orders.
418,000 people currently live in care homes in the UK. There can be various reasons for moving into a care home, from people electing to move in themselves for social inclusion to being placed by the NHS or Local Authority due to a mix of lack of mental capacity and high care needs. With this number of people in care, it's not a case of if this happens again...but when.
And there is more than just capacity to consider when selling someone's property; if they lack capacity, is there a deputy or attorney in place that has the authority to sell the property? If so, is it actually in the client's best interest to sell the property?
When someone is self-funding and placed by statutory services into a care home, they can occasionally fall between the gaps; with their care fees being managed by an attorney or deputy, it can often be seen that statutory services have no further need to be involved and the next decision is to sell the property to pay for care.
But, admission to care does not necessarily mean that long-term care is necessary; it depends on the reason for the admission. Is it an emergency admission? Was it for respite, but as the client is self-funding, they have fallen through the gap and been forgotten?
Without assessing a client's capacity and care needs, it's impossible to make the best interest decisions and could result in a person's home being sold when they could have returned home with a correct package of care, allowing them dignity in their own home and potentially saving them thousands in care fees.
Nellie Supports is now offering free mental capacity and vulnerability training in person or via video link to all legal professionals nationwide to ensure that our most vulnerable in society are protected.