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Book Review - A Practical Guide To Elderly Law Second Edition

Posted: Friday, 14 April 2023 @ 11:24

The consultant Nurse, expert witness and accredited mediator Sue Bayram has done a review of my book on elderly law for the Academy of Experts journal, The Expert & Dispute Resolver which appears below and is published with permission by the Academy of Experts.  

"As an Independent Nurse Consultant working mainly within the field of the elderly, and also as a Civil and Commercial Mediator, I was very pleased to be asked to review this book and I wasn’t disappointed by the content.

This short book is very simply laid out with many easy references should you wish to find out more information about the topics mentioned. There are ten chapters covering various aspects of the law in relation to wills and inheritance, the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and eventually concluding with a useful section on how mediation or other forms of early dispute resolution can be best used to resolve many of the issues raised in the book rather than resorting to the legal process in one or more forms.

As someone who works mainly in the field of elderly care, I am often asked about  the topics covered in this book and I always recommend that legal advice is taken from a lawyer or company that specialises in the writing of Wills , or at the very least, advice from one of the many support groups such as Age UK.

I now feel that I could recommend this book as it is written in such a way that a lay person can understand, with enough detail and relevant references to access for more details to also be useful to someone who needs to know the details of this area of the law in a professional capacity where the topics covered are not their main ‘day job’.

Chapter One deals with Will validity, with Chapter Two going on to cover inheritance claims. Both of these chapters would be useful information for anyone who was considering making a will, or to families who are thinking of challenging a Will.

Chapters Three and Four deal with the role of the Executors including the removal of an Executor if there are found to be issues. The chapters outline the responsibilities of the Executor(s) and also relevant timelines in which they need to complete their role and responsibilities.

For those who are considering setting up a Trust, Chapter Five contains useful information about how to do this and what needs to be considered to ensure that the Trust does not become a burden for those involved.

Of particular interest to me as someone who delivers training to care providers on the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) and the role of a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), are Chapters Six, Seven and Eight. These chapters outline very clearly the role of a Lasting Power of Attorney (and the previous roles that the LPA replaced). The book deals specifically with the role of the LPA in relation to the management of property and affairs, although it does mention that there is a LPA for Personal Welfare also. It outlines how the process for registering a LPA needs to be followed, making the point that the LPA needs to be registered before it can be ‘in place’ and there may be restrictions about what the LPA can and can’t do.

The chapter also explains that any decisions made have to be in the best interests of the person it affects and not a decision made by the LPA alone.It would be useful for more detail to be included around ‘Best of Interest Meetings’ where the various relevant parties are consulted before a decision is made in the person’s best interests. From my own perspective I come across issues in a care home where (to use a simple example), a resident would benefit from being provided with a specific item such as a larger television that would improve the quality of their life due to their failing vision but the person who holds the LPA does not feel that it is necessary and withholds the money. By refusing to purchase the larger television, the LPA is not acting in the person’s best interests and therefore, this could mean that there is a safeguarding concern that needs to be raised with the Local Authority. Care staff and LPA’s need to be aware that a LPA can be challenged if it is felt that decisions are not being made in the person’s best interests.

The book also covers the role of the ‘Court of Protection’ should there be any concerns over the person holding the LPA or any decisions they may make, or there is no one available to be a LPA.

Chapter Eight covers the opportunities for mismanagement in relation to LPA’s, Wills and Probate Fraud. Whilst there is a need for someone to take responsibility in cases where a person no longer has capacity to manage their own finances and/or their health and welfare, the chapter discusses the issues that might arise through mismanagement by the LPA.

Chapters Nine and Ten cover the use of mediation in resolving the issues that are outlined in the previous chapters along with general advice and information about the mediation process and how it can be applied in other circumstances. As a Civil and Commercial Mediator I found the content helpful with some great reminders about what needs to be considered when approached about acting as a mediator on the topics covered in the book.

Apart from the mediation process, it covers details about how to ensure that the mediation has the best starting chance such as the choice of venue, length of time to be set aside and the use of ‘virtual’ mediations such as by Zoom and MS Teams meetings. The chapter is laid out in a very useful format also covering examples when mediation may not be the best choice and why.

The detail covered in the chapter makes suitable reading for both lay people and the legal profession who have little or no knowledge of the mediation process and would certainly make good reading for mediators who find themselves mediating on such topics, especially if they are at the start of their mediation career.

I found the book to be informative and easy to read. So much so that I have purchased my own copy and I am sure that I will refer to it often in the future, both in the course of my work as a Nurse Consultant and also as a Civil and Commercial Mediator. Especially when deciding whether or not to act as a mediator when approached on a dispute relevant to a topic covered in this book using the guidance provided about what types of such disputes are and aren’t appropriate for mediation." 

The book is available on Amazon and on the Law Brief Publishing website.