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The capacity conundrum – assessing your client’s capacity to make legal decisions

The capacity conundrum – assessing your client’s capacity to make legal decisions

By Katie Miller

Capacity Dispute Resolution Human Rights Justice 


One of the key issues for the LIV this year is the Royal Commission into Family Violence. We’ve made a submission to the Commission and assisted the Commission to find suitable witnesses to give evidence about the interaction and gaps between the various courts involved in family violence issues. It’s easy to think that family violence is something that happens in families with young children, with one parent abusing the child or the other parent. But what about when it’s the other way around – what if it’s the child abusing the parent? Unfortunately, lawyers practising in elder law see this all the time. Senior Rights Victoria has given evidence to the Royal Commission about financial abuse of elderly parents by their middle-aged children. Labelled “early inheritance syndrome”, it involves the misuse of powers of attorney to use the parents’ assets to pay the children’s debts. It is estimated that in 2013–14 elderly people lost $60 million to financial abuse.

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