Assets for Care: A Guide for Lawyers to Assist Older Clients at Risk of Financial Abuse

Why lawyers need to read this guide:

Lawyers have a special role in the prevention of financial abuse of older people. Older people can be assisted in protecting themselves against current and future abuse and lawyers can also be alert to the potentially abusive nature of transactions about which younger family members may seek legal advice.

Lawyers have been found to be negligent in cases where they have not properly advised clients, and dispositions have been set aside in cases of undue influence or unconscionability because the advice of the lawyer was found to be lacking.

This is a practical guide for lawyers on what to do and what resources are available to assist older clients. This guide will help lawyers to:

  • detect actual or potential financial abuse of an older client, particularly where there has been a promise, or an intention, to transfer assets in exchange for care and/or accommodation;

  • identify the lawyer’s role, duties and responsibilities when acting for older clients in these kinds of dealings;

  • identify and advise on the factors that will increase a client’s vulnerability to exploitation or abuse;

  • identify the most appropriate protective action to take;

  • try to remedy any financial abuse that has already occurred; and

  • refer the client to the appropriate services where required.