Working Confidently And Professionally With Vulnerable Clients

Far too often the Wills and Estate Planning profession is blighted by unscrupulous individuals choosing to exploit society’s most vulnerable people.  Instead of offering these people the additional help and support they need, some have seized the opportunity to take advantage of the situation.

2019 started with the news that a solicitor, working in Wills and Estate Planning, was jailed for six years following the heartless overcharging of 23 clients between the years of 2005 and 2014.

In total, Edgar Stephen Thomas* defrauded these vulnerable or grieving clients out of £1 million.

Thomas charged £127,500 to administer one estate, later pleading guilty to overcharging the client £112,000 for the legal services he provided. Other examples including charges of £20,000 per week for completing little to no work for the client.

Thankfully, whilst these cases are isolated and in a minority, a recent survey by Financial Reporter found that two thirds of legal service professionals who responded felt that they would benefit from additional guidance on how to communicate with vulnerable clients and those lacking capacity.

In particular, 53% wanted greater clarity on when a vulnerable person may need representation and support, 55% wanted a greater understanding of the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) 2005 before confidently completing work for a vulnerable client and 37% wanted more training surrounding the various health issues commonly associated with vulnerable people.

When those aged over 85 are set to double and one million people aged over 65-years-old are predicted to require 24-hour care by 2035**, it is imperative that professionals are adept and confident with the issues surrounding elderly people and those lacking capacity.

The Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) and Institute of Scottish Professional Willwriters (ISPW) are aware of the importance in providing accurate advice to vulnerable clients or representatives of those helping a client lacking capacity.

The Willwriting Academy Ltd (the training arm of the IPW/ISPW) offers a Vulnerable Persons course which provides a comprehensive and detailed look at issues around Deputyship and the Court of Protection. The course also looks at more complex issues surrounding capacity and elderly clients making provisions in their Wills for disabled beneficiaries.

Make sure that you are confident in advising vulnerable clients in the obstacles they will face in later life and the options available to them. Click here for booking details. 

Additionally, do not overlook this year’s Willwriting Academy national conference. It is a unique way of meeting like-minded people who are providing similar legal services as your business – there will be ample opportunities to chat, collaborate and discuss the various ways you can make the process more efficient and pleasant for vulnerable clients who want additional support.

Click here to register your interest in the Institute’s Annual Meeting and Willwriting Academy National Conference taking place on Wednesday 20th and Thursday 21st March at Drayton Manor Hotel & Conference Centre, near Tamworth.


* Information from Today’s Wills and Probate

**Statistics taken from Lancet Health Journal