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Legally Speaking - Part 5

Posted on 21 September 2017 by Catherine Murton

Legally Speaking - Part 5

October is the month when the evenings start to draw in, the weather takes a turn for the worst and everyone tends to feel just a little bit more miserable. Perhaps then we should consider those in our community who worry about turning the heating on in case they cannot afford the heating bill or who dread torrential rain or a couple of inches of snow because it will leave them house bound.

As part of my ongoing training as a mentor for more junior solicitors I have recently undertaken a personality evaluation and the results were very interesting! I was surprised to find that, according to the experts, I would be better suited to being a counsellor or a social worker. However, on reflection, a large part of my job involves listening to my clients, guiding them and, very often, just being someone that they can talk to.

So for me and my private client colleagues this is a time of year when we see more of our elderly clients. We often make home visits to the less mobile and many people don’t realise that we offer this service. It means that legal advice is always available, even to those that struggle to leave their homes. Clients are also often very surprised to learn that we make no additional charge for this. These visits give us an insight into a person’s living conditions and often help us tremendously to understand their worries or to identify issues that need to be addressed. 

I think that everyone values their independence and, unfortunately, most elderly people still have the image of residential care as it was twenty years or more ago. They think that they will end up sitting n a chair all day, forced to watch an overly loud television. Thankfully those days are long gone and residential care is now safe, homely and gives lots of opportunities for independence and social interaction. Of course, living in your own home for as long as possible is what every one of us hopes for but elderly people often do not get the domestic or financial help that the are entitled to and we can sometimes steer them in the right direction. 

Another part of my daily work is to administer the estates of those that have passed away. It is a sad fact of life that the number of deaths tends to increase in the colder months. Sometimes someone has been poorly for a long time but many other deaths are completely unexpected. In all cases loved ones are left bereaved, confused and wondering what they are supposed to do.

There are only three things from an administrative point of view that need to be dealt with quickly. Firstly, a death should be registered within five working days. Sometimes, for example if the Coroner is involved, this may not be possible but generally there should be no difficulty. The local registrars are wonderful and will guide the person registering the death through the whole process.

Secondly, arrangements must be made with the chosen funeral director. Before rushing in to organising things, please check the deceased’s will to see if any specific funeral instructions have been included. Finally, make sure that you let any home insurer know that the property is now left unoccupied. Failure to advise the insurer can invalidate the insurance policy.

Some people choose to administer a deceased’s estate themselves. This is usually not a problem where assets are small or where everything passes to a surviving spouse. Anything more complicated should be dealt with professionally. We are always happy to advise and assist so please do give me a call if you need any help at all on 01935 382689 or email me on catherine.murton@pardoes.co.uk.

Posted in: Court of Protection & Powers of Attorney, Elderly & Vulnerable Client Affairs, Probate and Estate Administration, Trusts & Tax Planning, Wealth Protection, Wills