The heartbreaking story of Kate Garraway’s financial difficulties during her husband’s 13-month battle with Covid is a stark reminder of the importance of a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Many people assume that if your partner or close relative becomes ill, you automatically have the right to take care of them, make decisions for them and look after their finances.
However, without a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, this is sadly not the case. Kate’s story highlights the importance of a Lasting Power of Attorney and why it should be put in place sooner rather than later.
Kate Garraway and Derek Draper
In March 2020 Derek Draper, the husband of broadcaster and journalist Kate Garraway was diagnosed with Coronavirus and spent thirteen months in hospital, often in a coma-like state.
During such an emotional and stressful time, Kate was unable to handle Derek’s financial affairs whilst he was incapacitated as the couple hadn’t put a Lasting Power of Attorney in place.
As it was Derek’s name on bills, assets, bank accounts, and insurance policies, Kate didn’t have permission to access their finances or mortgage. With Derek unable to sign the paperwork on the family’s mobile phone account, Kate had to pay almost £900 for a replacement handset, which would have been free otherwise. Eventually, Kate had to rely on friends for financial support.
On top of all this, without an LPA, she couldn’t make decisions about Derek’s health and welfare, or have the legal right to see his medical notes, due to data protection.
Making a Power of Attorney had been on their radar, as Kate recalls Derek saying “We have to do Powers of Attorney in case anything happens.” Sadly, this emphasises the need to pre-empt unexpected occurrences and ensure that your legal documentation is always in order and up to date.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Put simply, a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that states who you have appointed to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so. This could be for a temporary situation like hospitalisation, or for longer term diagnoses such as dementia.
The person you choose is known as the Attorney and needs to be over 18, have the mental capacity to make their own decisions, and not be bankrupt or subject to a debt relief order.
You can appoint more than one Attorney, but you must decide whether they make decisions separately or together. They could be a relative, friend, partner, or a professional such as a solicitor and can be based anywhere in the world.
As there are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney available, you could consider appointing a different Attorney for the different scenarios that they cover.
Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney
A Health & Welfare LPA covers everything related to your daily care and medical treatments, including decisions on moving into a care home.
Property & Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney
A Property & Financial Affairs LPA includes everything relating to your home and money, including bank accounts, bills, pensions, any benefit payments, and selling your home.
The importance of arranging a Lasting Power of Attorney sooner rather than later
Many people do not appoint a Power of Attorney until later in life, but we advise that this is done as soon as possible whilst you are still able.
Life is unpredictable, and in the unfortunate event that you become incapacitated and unable to manage your welfare and finances, a Power of Attorney is one less thing for your loved ones to worry about.
Without a Power of Attorney after an accident or an illness diagnosis, you will need to apply to the Court of Protection for them to appoint a Deputy. This can be a lengthy process and can involve a financial burden in the form of application, assessment and yearly supervision fees.
Ideally, the best time to make a Lasting Power of Attorney is at the same time that you make your Will. Wills are another essential legal document that we can help you with.
Keeping your Lasting Power of Attorney up to date
As with any legal documents, it’s really important to keep them up to date. If you or your Attorney change name or address, don’t forget to update your Power of Attorney accordingly.
You can remove an Attorney with a ‘partial deed of revocation’, but if you want to add another, you will need to end your current Legal Power of Attorney and make a new one.
Do not make changes to your Lasting Power of Attorney document itself, as it might become invalid.
Do you need to put a Lasting Power of Attorney in place? Our team has extensive experience in helping clients protect and provide for their families in the future.
If you would like to speak to one of our specialists, call us now on 0117 952 0698 or make a free enquiry and our team will be in touch.