A Foot Anstey specialist has been involved with crucial new guidance for solicitors advising on issues regarding the wills of individuals who have lost mental capacity.
The guidance is intended to speed up simple and straightforward requests to access a client's will while also ensuring that solicitors protect the best interests of their clients.
Senior Associate, Holly Mieville-Hawkins was sitting on the Law Society's Working Committee and worked in partnership with several other interested bodies including the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Office of the Public Guardian, the Court of Protection, the Legal Services Ombudsman. The Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners were also represented, of whom Patricia Wass, Consultant at Foot Anstey is currently Worldwide Chair.
The guidance sets out when a solicitor can safely recognise the authority of an attorney or deputy to see a client's will and when a solicitor should refer the attorney or deputy to the Court of Protection. The guidance also includes a flowchart depicting the steps a solicitor should take after receiving such a request and template letters that practitioners may find useful when notifying a client of a request and responding to both attorneys and deputies.
The guidance clarifies a previously unclear area of law which caused unnecessary and complicated delays.
Holly Mieville Hawkins said: "With this guidance, produced collaboratively between key parties, will help support those affected by mental capacity, more thoroughly. To ensure that their wishes for the future are respected and carried out, it is a valuable exercise that will give clients more comfort in uncertain times."
Law Society president Robert Bourns said: “With their expertise, training and high professional standards, solicitors have an important role to play in ensuring that clients with impaired mental capacity are properly protected. This guidance will help solicitors respond to requests from attorneys and deputies to see a will, while ensuring practitioners continue to protect their client's best interests.”