Comentis launches equity release mental capacity assessment

Comentis, a duty of care assessment company, has announced the launch of a “tech-enabled mental capacity assessment” for the equity release sector. 

Designed to ensure conveyancers and solicitors are suitably equipped to assess borrowers’ mental capacity, Comentis is launching a new capacity assessment with Equilaw for those equity release borrowers that are suspected of lacking capacity. The assessment will also subsequently aim to protect brokers and lenders from any potential future claims relating to capacity.

With the arrival of Consumer Duty six months ago, the mortgage community is now well aware of the need to assess clients for signs of vulnerability. Capacity can be complex to assess, predominantly because it requires those carrying out the assessments to legally prove a threshold of understanding has been reached, which is also specific to the product taken and even its features, such as drawdown or capital repayment options.

By rolling this new assessment out to clients who are suspected of lacking mental capacity and working closely with Comentis to learn from and adapt based on the associated data, Equilaw will be able to enhance its client interactions, putting solicitors in a stronger position to identify concerns and also determine appropriate mitigating steps, thereby supporting advisers and lenders.  Jonathan Barrett, CEO of Comentis, commented:

“Assessing mental capacity is a complex process. Not only this but we are seeing an increasing number of capacity-related claims coming through in the equity release space. Given this increase, it’s vital that mental capacity is correctly assessed, to protect all those involved.”

What makes this issue even more pressing is that while the industry is broadly aware capacity must be assessed, there seems to be confusion as to where that responsibility lies – the broker, the solicitor, or the lender. Frankly, this is an issue which everyone must understand. The implications of getting it wrong are going to be felt all-round. This ground-breaking new assessment will help with that process, and benefit both the industry as a whole and the end clients.”

Claire Barker, CEO of Equilaw, commented:

“A hugely important part of our role is to advise homeowners on the risks and rewards of products recommended by their financial adviser, explaining how everything works and ensuring they fully understand what’s involved before they proceed. With that in mind, we strongly believe our partnership with Comentis to better assess mental capacity will reassure financial advisers, providers and our mutual clients that the best possible care has been taken in enabling our clients to make an informed decision when making a serious and long-term financial commitment.”

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