Guide alerts lawyers to financial elder abuse in wills

The Law Council of Australia has released a guide to help lawyers identify financial elder…

The Law Council of Australia has released a guide to help lawyers identify financial elder abuse while preparing wills and advance planning documents.

Pauline Wright

The Best Practice Guide for Legal Practitioners in relation to Elder Financial Abusesuggests measures legal practitioners can adopt to mitigate risks, and identify and respond to potential abuse.

It comes in response to the Australia Law Reform Commission’s 2017 report on Elder Abuse, which recommended the development of best practice guidelines for legal practitioners in relation to wills and other advance planning documents.

The guide covers topics such as setting up meetings, taking instructions, ensuring appropriate support, communicating effectively with the client, checking for decision making capacity and record keeping.

Law Council President Pauline Wright said the legal profession has an important role to play in protecting the rights of older people.

“Today, one in every six Australians are aged 65 and over, and these figures are set to increase,” she said in a statement.

“Legal practitioners are in a key position to recognise and prevent the abuse of older persons, including financial abuse.”

 “While much of the lawmaking in the area is made at the state and territory level, the Guide provides overarching principles to complement more detailed guidance provided by the Law Council’s constituent bodies,” Ms Wright said.

“There are growing concerns about the increasing rates of elder abuse in Australia.

“That is why it is imperative that steps are taken to address the issue and implement changes to protect older Australians.”

The guide was developed by the Law Council’s specialist National Elder Law and Succession Law Committee.

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