JE Bennett Law developed our business as Court of Protection Solicitors and are recognised as a leading firm by the Legal 500. From our Sevenoaks office, our team of specialist lawyers primarily serve clients throughout Kent, London and the South East, but also represent people throughout the UK.
Jane Bennett, is a member of the Office of the Public Guardian’s national panel of professional deputies. Jane is regularly appointed by the Court of Protection in circumstances where vulnerable people require representation in order to manage their property and affairs and their care and welfare. This could be due to a brain injury; illness; clinical negligence or age-related issues.
Having been through a selection process to be appointed a panel deputy, Jane ensures the team offers a gold standard deputyship benchmark around all areas of deputyship work, with strict adherence to professional standards.
JE Bennett’s team has a tight rein on spending and our adherence to fiscal budgeting promotes the assiduous handling of our clients' affairs and personal interests.
We also act for local authorities in Court of Protection, safeguarding and other matters that arise in relation to vulnerable members of society. In addition, we advise lay deputies to ensure every aspect of the vulnerable person’s needs are appropriately managed.
It is also possible for the Court of Protection to appoint a professional deputy. This is particularly important and more likely if for example an attorney under a power of attorney has abused their role and has abused the person who gave them the power (the donor) financially and/or in relation to their care. A professional deputy has the skills and expertise to deal with the challenges of the role. As a panel deputy, Jane and the team frequently act where donors of Enduring or Lasting Powers of Attorney have been abused financially, or regarding their care. The team assists the Public Guardian in its investigation into wrongdoing regarding the vulnerable party’s affairs.
Where Jane acts as deputy, she and the team will always try to work with the person’s family at all times, but it is important to note their obligations are first and foremost to the vulnerable person.
The team advises on all aspects of Court of Protection work and the role and duties of deputies. Jane handles deprivation of liberty matters including advising lay deputies around these issues, and what amounts to a deprivation and in what circumstances.
Jane and the team also adhere to the regulatory guidance released by the Public Guardian, which requires proposed expenditure and prospective annual costs to be submitted to the Office of the Public Guardian a year in advance, and is alive to the need to review capacity in accordance with the Code of Practice which accompanies the Mental Capacity Act 2005. In particular, they consider on an ongoing basis whether deputyship is still required, or whether the person may or should be discharged from the auspices of the Court of Protection.
According to the Alzheimer's Society by 2025, around 1 million people in the UK will have dementia. Currently 1 in 5 people over the age of 85 are affected. So it's never been more important for individuals to plan for the future to ensure affairs are in order, should the time come where they lack the capacity to make those decisions themselves. It's not just the elderly who need to forward plan, incapacity can strike the younger generations as well - through injury or illness.
Many assume that if something happened to them their next of kin will look after them. This is not automatically the case: The spouse/partner will not be able to access and manage finances or personal property and the family will not be able to look after health and welfare without making an application to the Court of Protection - which can be stressful and time consuming.
To make provision to give someone else the right to make specific decisions on your behalf, requires a legal device known as a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). There are two types, the appointed person can manage:
For more information on LPAs, see our Power of Attorney fact sheet.
JE Bennett Law are experienced Personal Injury Trust Solicitors. From our offices in Sevenoaks, Kent we are well positioned for London and the south east, but do business throughout the UK. Jane Bennett frequently acts as a professional trustee as well as advising lay trustees where compensation is received following personal injuries, either due to personal injury or clinical negligence litigation; Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority claims or vaccine damage payments. Our experienced team of lawyers works with the lay trustee to ensure all trustee duties are adhered to and the various trustee obligations are met, including advice as to the various legal ramifications of managing a personal injury trust.
This often involves analysis of mental capacity to found a trust, since both the mentally incapacitated client and those having capacity, may set up trusts to protect their compensation. The main advantages of holding funds in trust are to ensure that state means tested benefits are maintained, and that eligibility to state funding for care is maximised. The team will also advise on the rules regarding capital limits and the treatment of income for benefits and tax purposes, as it arises within or as a result of the trust, or post settlement in the form of periodical payments. Advice includes help to decide what form of trust is most appropriate for clients’ needs, and careful consideration as to the benefits or burdens involved in each.
In the course of acting as a professional trustee, Jane frequently acts for children and vulnerable adults in relation to the management of funds received in damages awards. She frequently appears in the High Court and is often asked to give evidence as to the reasonableness of proposed professional costs and to the law relating to the management of trusts in cases which have not yet settled.
The team advises on tax issues arising from the setting up of the trust, and holding funds/assets in trust, and offers comprehensive administration services, so that the injured party and their family can focus on their loved one’s care and maximise their quality of life. Jane and the team are also fully conversant and trained in the changes in the law following the implementation of the Care Act 2014 in April 2015 and the impact on the injured party, including the interaction of state funding and eligibility for the provision of care, and the impact of the Care Act on carers.
Wherever possible, Jane will work with the client and their families to ensure that the firm’s services are tailored to their needs and that affordability is a key consideration in the provision of advice. Moreover, as Court of Protection specialists Jane and the team can advise clients as to the impact of the law relating to the Court of Protection on their situation, such as for example, when a trust may be appropriate as opposed to a deputyship, and the rules and case law affecting this key area, particularly in light of the Care Act 2014 coming into force.
The firm advises on and sets up disabled persons’ and bare trusts, and organises the opening and running of trust bank accounts. Annual tax returns can also be prepared at competitive rates. As part of the comprehensive advice JE Bennett Law offers, the team offers advice and assistance in claiming state benefits; will advise you as to the operation of the 52 week disregard for eligibility to state benefits, and is happy to assist in the completion of benefits forms, including corresponding with benefits offices, and arguing where necessary for backdated payments, if appropriate.
We offer a full range of Will services including statutory Will applications to the Court of Protection. People often shy away from making or updating their will. Thinking about what will happen when one dies can feel morbid but considering what will happen to one's estate upon death need not feel daunting and should just be treated as an exercise in planning for the future.
If you die without leaving a valid will then your estate will pass in accordance with the rules of intestacy, and these rules set out the order of inheritance. In these circumstances it is not a ‘given’ that your spouse or civil partner or children will inherit and there is the risk that someone that you have no relationship or contact with, for example, could benefit from your estate. A will provides the opportunity to:
It is possible to make a will without legal guidance but it is worth bearing in mind that complexity is down to individual circumstances and not always just the size and value of the estate. At JE Bennett Law we can add value to the will making process by explaining clearly the options available to you based on your own specific circumstances. We strongly advise you seek professional advice before making a will, to provide the peace of mind in knowing that your wishes will be adhered to.
In addition to advice to family members on the death of a loved one, we offer professional Executor/Administrator and trusteeship services to families/beneficiaries, at this difficult time.
The maze of rules and regulations surrounding funding of residential care home places and/or domiciliary care fees can be confusing.
The implementation of the Care Act 2014, regulation of state-funding in care homes and at home, and state-funding of care through the NHS has changed the landscape.
JE Bennett Law act for private clients, but we also act for care homes who may be facing similar concerns. We challenge local authority or NHS decisions on funding and/or care.