Scott Walker, Consultant Solicitor at Richard Nelson Solicitors, shares his experiences and some practical tips for those working as a professional attorney or deputy | Part 2
Read part 1 where Scott shares tips 1-3, as well as explaining why being a professional attorney and deputy changed him – both as a person and a lawyer.
4. Understand dementia and mental capacity
One of the biggest game changes for me when starting my journey in this area of work was starting to learn about dementia. I attended a compelling dementia friends session and I’m sure many of you have attended similar sessions.
I continued with this learning wherever I could. But the only real way is to experience it. Visit your clients and get to know them. Understand their challenges and what you can do to help them. Be careful of the language you use, whether you are talking to your client, colleagues, or other professionals. Clean and simple is good!
I believe every decision you make as an Attorney or Deputy, on behalf of the person you are helping, is underpinned by that person’s mental capacity. If they have an illness, to what extent is the illness impacting their ability to understand decisions they need to make?
More important is the understanding that a person is assumed to have mental capacity to make a decision unless it can be shown otherwise. In addition, I think it is worth repeating that mental capacity is assessed on a decision and time-specific basis.
5. The certificate provider
As you will be aware, when a professional attorney is appointed, someone independent of the attorney’s organisation should be approached to act as a certificate provider. This is the view of the Office of the Public Guardian. Be sure to ask somebody appropriate to act as a certificate provider. This might be another professional unconnected with your firm. The advantage is that should the mental capacity of your client to make a Lasting Power of Attorney be questioned then you have a certificate provider with the correct amount of skill to answer any concerns.
I am happy to provide such a service and act as a certificate provider.
6. Professional fees
Do ensure that the Lasting Power of Attorney specifically states your fee arrangements. You have no power to charge for your service if the LPA is silent on fees. I have encountered LPAs that are silent in relation to fees. The last thing you want to face is an application to the Court of Protection to seek approval of your charges.
7. Seek outside help
I suspect we have all experienced issues with banks and building societies. Sometimes it is easier to look for alternative options. The organisation, Money Carer is fantastic. They help the vulnerable, their carers, attorneys, and deputies with money management solutions, such as bank accounts, carers’ shopping cards, and much more. They also offer a welfare benefits check.
In addition to financial arrangements, if you need assistance with care assessments, sourcing a care home, or help with other health and welfare issues there are lots of independent social workers, occupational therapists, and other organisations who can help. One of particular interest is Nellie Supports. They offer a support package for attorneys and deputies to ensure you can help your client and comply with your duties as their attorney or deputy.
I would recommend reading and becoming familiar with the professional deputy standards (which can equally apply to a professional attorney) and the PN1 Practice Note – Agreeing to act as a professional attorney – a good practice guide. Both are produced by the Office of the Public Guardian.
In addition, the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice is an extremely useful source of information. It is your manual and guide. Read, digest, and keep it at your bedside.
If you would like further advice regarding acting as a professional attorney or deputy, NHS Continuing Healthcare Claims, or care funding for a client please contact me.
For 15 years, Scott has been helping clients to achieve peace of mind and to deal with the practicalities of death and old age. Scott has built up a wealth of experience in Wills and Probate. He has been a Consultant Solicitor at Richard Nelson Solicitors since January 2022. He made the career move so that he can serve his clients flexibly by providing a safe and inclusive space. Scott has acted for a range of clients including advising on elderly and vulnerable client matters. This includes acting for many clients who have lost the mental capacity to make their own decisions and manage their own affairs. Scott is well placed to offer advice to Attorneys and Deputies acting in this role. Contact Scott: Send him a message on Linkedin, send him an email to email@example.com or call 0773 485 9304