Protecting Your Child If They Become Physically or Mentally Vulnerable

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Victoria Wood of Longmores Solicitors in Hertford outlines five ways a solicitor can help with protecting your child if they will be physically or mentally unable to look after themselves in adulthood.

The role of a parent is filled with responsibilities and concerns, and even when children grow up, those worries do not end. However, parents with children unable to look after themselves in adulthood will feel an even greater pressure to ensure their children’s needs are met. Here are five ways in which your solicitor can relieve you of some of the burden by helping you plan for the future:-

 1. Becoming an Appointee

A solicitor can help you consider the type of assistance your child is likely to need and to plan the most appropriate way of providing it.

If your child is in receipt of benefits but does not have and is not likely to have any further savings, then becoming an appointee for your child may be the most practical option.

An appointee is someone with the right to deal with benefits on behalf of someone who is incapacitated, child or adult. They are responsible for making and maintaining benefit claims, and their power relates only to that specific area. There are no fees but whom you apply to will depend on the benefit received.

2. Becoming an Attorney

Once your child is over 18, if they have the necessary level of mental capacity (a solicitor can advise), they can appoint you as their Attorney to deal with their finances under a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This is an appropriate option if your child has or is likely to have more extensive assets.

A separate type of LPA can be granted to allow you to deal with health and welfare matters on their behalf.

This route involves Court fees and possible legal fees but properly drafted LPAs can save future worry, effort and cost. A solicitor can help you to include particular wording in the LPA that is relevant to your child and how they would like their affairs to be managed.

3. Becoming a Deputy

If your adult child does not have capacity to grant Lasting Powers of Attorney but there are significant assets to be managed, a solicitor can guide you through an application to be appointed Deputy for your child by the Court of Protection.

A Deputy’s powers will extend to those given in the Court order and can relate to limited or broader circumstances. There are both Court and legal fees and the process is lengthier than appointing an Attorney. As this is a formal court application, there are a number of forms that need to be completed, and a Solicitor can help you with completing these.

4. Appointing a Guardian

Planning your child’s welfare after you have died can be dealt with in your Will.

You can nominate another adult to take on legal parental responsibility for children under 18. Whilst this role does not extend beyond the child’s 18th birthday, it can be useful to state that you would like them to continue looking out for your child informally, as they may then consider themselves a candidate for any later assistance necessary, e.g. acting as Appointee, Attorney or Deputy. This will also assist any court if they need to make a decision about your child and in determining what is in your child’s best interests.

5. Setting up a Discretionary Trust

If your child receives benefits, inheriting under your Will may mean that those benefits end. Your child may also be unable to look after any inheritance themselves and it will need to be managed on their behalf. A solicitor can draft your Will so that the inheritance is held by trustees and available for your child’s benefit without necessarily belonging to them outright, thereby allowing the benefits to continue and the funds being properly looked after.

Here to Help 

If you need advice about protecting your child for adulthood, get in touch with Victoria Wood in our Private Client team, who specialises in advising older and vulnerable clients.

This article is for information only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. If you need legal advice on the issues raised in this article, please contact a member of our team.

This article can be found in the October 2021 Herefordshire Life Magazine. 

NLA article not to be reproduced.