Caroline Bielanska and Martin Terrell
The Law Society, 2009, £59.95
People in developed countries such as the UK are living longer. During the last century, the average life expectancy has increased by 30 years, and Britain’s over 65s now outnumber the under 16s.
The number of lawyers practising ‘elder law’ has also increased markedly in recent years, and therefore a reliable, comprehensive and practical reference book on this area of law is essential. This edition of the Elderly Client Handbook appears to be a must-buy for those who want to provide up-to-date advice and guidance to elderly clients and their families. It is clear and thorough in its coverage and brings together the many and varied areas of law and practice that an elder law practitioner may have to deal with.
There are some 15 contributors involved in this edition, including Solicitors for the Elderly founders, employment law specialists and a policy consultant on mental health law. The solicitors and barristers involved in this edition are all experts in their field, and have been able to provide significant contributions in relation to recent case law and legislation, including the groundbreaking Mental Capacity Act 2005, Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and Equality Act 2010.
The book is set out in four main sections, beginning with a helpful exploration of the legal framework surrounding elder law, and the assessment of capacity. This section usefully considers best interest decision making in conjunction with guidance on financial issues facing the elderly client.
It then considers welfare and medical issues, providing both detailed and pragmatic guidance on care homes, community services, and social service/health care issues which the practitioner and their client might need to consider. It discusses finance and benefits, employment and housing, and finally sets out the issues surrounding wills, trusts, gifts and death.
From providing detailed guidance on capacity issues, through to practical suggestions relating to financial management and choosing a care home, this edition of the Elderly Client Handbook certainly seems to tick all the boxes. As a single point of reference for busy practitioners, this is a thoroughly comprehensive guide which is a must on any practitioner’s bookshelf!