24th March 2021
Kate Garraway’s heart-breaking story aired on TV yesterday which documented her family’s ordeal over her husband Derek’s year long battle with Covid. Kate has been open throughout the last year about how she was unable to access funds to manage her husband’s care or refinance her mortgage. She didn’t even have the legal right to see his medical notes, owing to data protection.
Many of the family assets such as the car, some bank accounts and insurance were in Derek’s name. Kate had no legal authority to deal with any of these assets and has openly stated that things would have been much more straightforward if Derek had made a LPA appointing Kate as an attorney.
So, what is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that enables individuals (known in this process as ‘the donor’) to appoint a person or persons (known as ‘the attorney/s’) to make decisions about their welfare, money or property, either now or in the future should the donor be unable to make decisions themselves. Donors typically are unable to make decisions themselves if they lose mental capacity to do so. However, the LPA can grant the right for the attorneys to act if the donor does not want to make the decision or deal with their affairs themselves for any reason, for example due to physical disabilities.
There are two different types of LPAs:
- Health and Welfare – this will allow your attorneys to make decisions related to your health and personal welfare, such as your daily routine, your medical treatment and where you are to live
- Property and Financial Affairs – this document allows your attorneys to manage your bank accounts, pay your bills and sell your property.
Should I make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Research by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) shows that 65% of us think our next-of-kin will make medical and care decisions for us if we are no longer able to. In reality, this isn’t the case unless a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney is in place. If any of your assets are in your sole name then your loved ones will struggle to gain access to these accounts in order to support you or your family.
Whilst there’s been a rise in the number of enquiries made about Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPAs) during the pandemic, only 22% of people in the UK actually have one.
Kate Garraway did not expect to be in a position to need to make decisions about her husband’s care and control her husband’s finances, however, unfortunately she has found herself in that position. A little forward thinking and planning to set up LPAs could save a lot of added stress should anything similar happen to you or your loved ones. LPAs are not something which should be reserved for the Elderly.