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Mental capacity legal specialist Melanie Wilkins joins Steele Raymond

Mental capacity specialist joins South Coast law firm Steele Raymond’s leading Private Client Team

07/10/2020

One of the South Coast’s top law firms has appointed an experienced mental capacity legal specialist to its leading private client team at its offices in Bournemouth.

Associate Melanie Wilkins joins the private client team at Steele Raymond and brings over 22 years’ experience in advising on wills, probate, trusts and tax. Melanie specialises in dealing with complex cases involving court of protection applications and mental capacity work, an area that has grown significantly over the last decade.

Court of protection applications are a process by which a person’s interests are safeguarded if they lack the mental capacity to take decisions for themselves.

Speaking about her new role, Melanie said:

“I am thrilled to be joining the private client team at Steele Raymond, a team that already possesses a wealth of experience. I’m delighted to be working alongside Sue Adams and John Andrews, two experienced lawyers that have a renowned reputation in complex tax and private client work. What struck me immediately was the firm’s ability to offer a fantastic hybrid between providing high-quality legal advice coupled with a warm and friendly atmosphere. Something that really does benefit the client, particularly in what can be very emotional circumstances.”

Melanie is also a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) and is a Dementia Friend.

Sue Adams, Partner and Private Client Team Leader at Steele Raymond, said:

“We are delighted to welcome someone with Melanie’s experience to the firm. Melanie’s significant experience in dealing with highly complex mental capacity matters adds further depth to our leading private client team.”

Resources relating to mental capacity and the law

Over two million people in England and Wales are thought to lack capacity to make decisions for themselves.  (Source: https://www.scie.org.uk/mca/introduction/mental-capacity-act-2005-at-a-glance).

There are currently around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK. This is projected to rise to 1.6 million by 2040, leading not only to a huge strain the UK healthcare system but to the lives of the estimated six million people involved in their care including a broad range of health and social care staff, plus unpaid carers. (Source: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-us/news-and-media/facts-media)

Dorset alone has over 14,000 people living with dementia with Christchurch having the largest population of people living with dementia in the whole for the UK (2.8%) (Source: https://www.dementiastatistics.org/statistics/dementia-maps/).

Proactive legal advice

Melanie explained the prevailing importance of proactive legal advice:

“People are living longer but the unfortunate reality is that, in some cases, this means that people are living with a reduced mental capacity for longer too. The debilitating effect of dementia and mental health issues have quite rightly become more mainstream in recent years. Fortunately people are overcoming the reluctance to talk about mental capacity issues and realising that it is more important to get their private affairs in order for themselves and their loved ones.”

Melanie continued:

“It is important that clients consider their medium to longer term future when dealing with their private affairs. Important legal documents, such as powers of attorney must be set up before an individual loses their capacity to take decisions, in case the eventuality should arise. Without it the process of delegating the decision-making process can be much more complex if the individual has already lost capacity.”

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For more information on the trusted legal advice Steele Raymond offers on tax, trusts, wills and probate, contact Melanie Wilkins on 01202 294 566 or email melaniewilkins@steeleraymond.co.uk.

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