Janette Wand is a Senior Associate with Ashtons Legal and specialises in Will drafting, Power of Attorney and managing Probate. We were lucky to grab her for a chat and get some great first hand legal advice for families managing their parents elderly care.
Why did you become a solicitor? What drew you to law involving families and care of the elderly?
I was an unemployed maths graduate who started off in a temp job as a legal secretary without any real plan, and I trained from there. I found that I really enjoyed managing to make complex areas of law feel more straightforward for the families of an older person. It is great to be able to see people becoming calmer, both physically and mentally, as they begin to understand the options for their loved one.
Is there a typical working day for you?
No two clients’ situations are ever the same and therefore my day can vary enormously. Plans can get thrown out of the window when an urgent request for advice arrives, for example, a question connected to an elderly or vulnerable client.
What are the most common and significant legal problems that people face within elderly care?
The 3 most significant issues that we see are:
- Gaining authority to look after your relative’s finances
- Concerns about someone else’s management of a relative’s finances
- Questions about funding of care
Ashtons Legal can help with each of these issues. We have a qualified and experienced team who can advise on the various routes to gaining proper authority to manage a relative’s finances. We can facilitate appropriate discussions with family members so that any disagreements can be dealt with promptly and can also suggest safeguards to ease concerns. Ashtons Legal are able to deal with the specialist area of funding for care provision.
Do you have any advice for someone caring for a relative living with dementia?
Take professional advice and make sure you have the correct legal authority to make decisions when that is needed (Attorneyship or Deputyship). Also make sure that you are fully aware of your duties if you take on that role. It may be difficult to think about some of these issues but it is so important to prepare a plan for the future. Have discussions with family and professionals and ensure you have any relevant documentation in place, both legally and medically. If at all possible, make sure your loved one’s wishes are known.
What does being a member of the Solicitors for the Elderly and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) mean for you and your clients?
Being a qualified member of SFE and STEP means that I have received additional training in comparison with other solicitors working in this area of law. It gives my clients access to a greater depth of experience and increased awareness of the issues affecting them, and how those issues can be resolved or managed.
Are there specific issues or concerns you have for older people living in the East of England? What are the solutions?
Inadequate resources for people outside of the care home setting e.g. transport, day care, companionship. The solutions are complicated but have to begin with increased awareness and financial resources.
Both Ashtons Legal and yourself are active in your local communities – what sort of things are you involved with?
I am a Dementia Friend. I have volunteered at the Age UK legal advice centre and given talks at local day care centres. I have also been a speaker at a local NHS Trust’s palliative care conference. My colleagues have close links with local care homes, providing support and legal advice clinics. We also support a number of local charities and grass roots organisations through corporate sponsorships and grants from our CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) committee, of which I am the current Chair.
Why do you feel that Ashtons and Age Space make good partners?
In my view, one of the main problems for people when they want to help their relative is finding out what resources are out there for them and gaining access to those resources. People would assume that there is a joined up approach between the different services, which sadly there isn’t. Both Ashtons and Age Space “connect the dots” and help people to gain access to all the resources they may need.
Thank you, Janette!
Visit the Ashtons Legal website to find out about how Janette and her team can help guide you and your family through any legal matters that arise in elderly care.