Book Review: Elderly Client Handbook – General Editor Caroline Bielanska

 In Book Reviews for Private Client practitioners, Elderly/Vulnerable Client

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Published by The Law Society ISBN 9781784460228

Book reviewThe fourth edition of Elderly Client Handbook published in 2010 proved to be an invaluable tool for Practitioners who advise the elderly. This edition, published in 2016, comprehensively highlights the latest developments such as the legislation introduced by the Care Act 2014, Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, Welfare Reform Act 2012 and case law on mental capacity.

Purpose of the book

The aim of the general editor Caroline Bielanska, as she states in the preface, ‘is to provide an overview of the law and practice relating to the needs of the elderly client, which will give Practitioners summaries of subjects within their expertise and accessible introductions to the areas of the law less familiar to them’.


This publication has been written to a good standard and reflects the expertise of the numerous authors who have contributed to this fifth edition. The chapters are topical and broad in nature and will greatly assist the Practitioner in delivering advice to their clients on a day to day basis. The point to remember about advising the elderly, as the editor quite correctly states is that ‘it is unlike other areas of the law which is subject based’. Accordingly, the Practitioner needs to apply different areas of law to properly meet the needs of the client and the Elderly Client Handbook covers the areas of law specific to the elderly client well.

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Structure and Layout

The book is divided into four parts. To begin with, the contents section of the book includes a detailed breakdown of the four sections which contain in total seventeen chapters. Each chapter has sub-headings which make it easy for the reader to locate a particular topic within a subject. This section also includes a table of cases, table of statutes and statutory and international instruments together with a useful list of abbreviations that assist the Practitioner and make it easy to cross-reference.

The first section of the book Part A is titled ‘The Legal Framework’. Sheree Green’s chapter on capacity and best interests’ decision-making is a good example of the book’s clear and concise approach to such an important subject (Chapter 1). This chapter explains succinctly the importance of determining capacity and the actual assessment of capacity. Additionally it navigates the reader through when capacity should be assessed and who should do the assessment. There is a good summary of the ‘golden rule’ and detailed analysis of the different tests of capacity for such matters as marriage, litigation, making a Will, revoking an EPA and making an LPA

Chapter 4 written by the Court of Protection expert Martin Terrell details the ways in which older clients can be assisted with the management of their financial affairs and gives advice on the making and registration of Lasting of Powers of Attorney and procedure in the Court of Protection. Each chapter has good practice points and checklists which signpost the Practitioner and will assist the Practitioner in becoming ‘client focused’, which is the real skill in advising the elderly.  Part B covers welfare and medical treatment with good sections on assessment and care provision, health and welfare decisions and mental health legislation. Section C considers the law in relation to finance and benefits, local authority support and housing. There are some useful sources of law and guidance at the beginning of the chapters in this section.  Section D deals with inheritance and death covering subjects such as gifts, testamentary dispositions and trusts and post-death tax planning. There is also a useful list of addresses and contact details for groups and associations linked to the elderly at Appendix A.


This publication like the fourth edition will prove to be an invaluable authority for the Practitioner who advises the older client. The book covers many different areas of the law from the ‘twelve fundamental standards’ that all regulated care providers must meet in providing care to state benefits that the elderly client may be entitled to such as attendance allowance and pension credit.  This makes the handbook an essential tool that will assist the Practitioner in delivering effective advice to clients and will help develop an elderly client practice.

Clarity and Readability

This is a comprehensive book with an expansive range of subject matters which is written in an informative and clear way. Each chapter has good practice points and checklists and sets out the sources of law which signpost the Practitioner to areas of the law that may be less familiar.

Relevance to Practitioners

This is a ‘must have’ for all those Practitioners advising the elderly. The handbook has been written to a high standard and navigates the Practitioner easily through many topics applicable to the elderly client.

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