It's not just law

Kirsty Poston, a solicitor in our Private Client Department provides an insight into her role and some of the more unusual aspects.

People often think Private Client Solicitors deal purely with drafting Wills and Powers of Attorney, obtaining Grants of Probate and providing Inheritance Tax advice, but our role can be far wider,dealing with non-legal matters and personal tasks.

Two of the Directors at Rowlinsons act as Attorneys or Court of Protection Deputies for a number of local clients. On the face of it this means that we are responsible for assisting the clients in the management of their financial affairs and payment of their bills, but in reality it means that our Private Client Team, including myself, become closely involved in the day to day running of client’s lives on a much more personal level.

As professional attorneys we are required to involve these clients in decision making about their own affairs as far as possible, even if they have reduced mental capacity. This means spending time with them and often requires us to explain in simple terms the issues we are handling and the decisions which need to be made.

For example, we act as financial attorney for one gentleman and I am responsible for the management of his finances, however such is the nature of his circumstances, our involvement extends far beyond this. Last year this gentleman was diagnosed with a serious illness and due to his mental capacity he was unable to weigh up the pros and cons of treatment or to understand his diagnosis. Due to this, he was unable to sanction or refuse the treatment and so others responsible for caring for him, including myself, were then consulted in order to reach a decision. This led to me being involved in lengthy discussions with his carers regarding whether or not it would be best for him to receive the proposed treatment. Ultimately everyone concerned reached agreement that it would have been his preference, considering he is in no pain and happy as he is, to continue to enjoy the rest of his time and so to refuse the treatment.

On a lighter note as part of my job I regularly visit the clients for whom we act as attorneys and always enjoy chatting to them, getting to know their likes and dislikes and their routines. Part of our role involves ensuring their well being, and putting arrangements in place for them to continue their ordinary lives as they would wish. In the last few months we have therefore arranged for a new cooker and fridge/freezer to be installed for one client, and bought another client’s favourite perfume as she was unable to go to the shop herself to get it.

Indeed, on Christmas Eve I went to visit one of our clients only to find that she had no power. Running into the Christmas break with no power was totally unacceptable so we had to arrange an emergency call out. Our job doesn’t finish at 5pm and even on Christmas Eve, long after most people had gone home, I waited with the client until 7pm to ensure everything had been resolved and the power was working again. The client was particularly happy as she loves food and without power couldn’t have had her Christmas dinner in her own home!!

The above just highlights some of the elements of our role which go above and beyond simply making sure the clients’ bills get paid. We can find ourselves involved in making tough decisions and doing what we can to make sure that the elderly and the vulnerable are looked after properly. It’s an incredibly rewarding job which is not just about the law, it’s about people, their lives and their wishes.