Good Morning Britain presenter Kate Garraway has revealed the importance of having Lasting Powers of Attorney in place.
The ITV documentary, Kate Garraway: Finding Derek, aired on 23 March, showed the struggles she has faced since her husband Derek Draper, contracted Covid-19, during the first lockdown. Sadly, a year on, Derek is still very ill and remains in hospital.
Prior to the documentary Kate talked openly in the press and on Good Morning Britain, about the problems she has experienced being left alone to care for the couple’s two children and to deal with the household finances. The situation has been made more stressful because Kate was unable to access funds to manage her husband’s care or refinance her mortgage as some things were in Derek’s sole name. She didn’t even have the legal right to see his medical notes, owing to data protection.
Lucy Watson, head of the Wills and Probate team at Phillips Solicitors said: “A lot of these problems could have been avoided if Kate and Derek had appointed each other as their Attorneys.”
“No doubt, as a married couple in their early 50s, they probably hadn’t considered a Lasting Power of Attorney as something they needed. Unfortunately, by the very nature of illness or accidents, these can occur without any notice.”
“Their unfortunate situation exemplifies why it is so important to plan ahead, just in case you need someone else to handle your affairs and make decisions on your behalf, should you no longer be able to do so due to either a short or long-term incapacity.”
“It also shows that LPAs are not just for elderly or vulnerable people.”
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
An LPA is a way of giving someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf should you lose mental capacity in the future or if you are worried about managing your affairs at a later date. This person is called an Attorney.
You can have more than one Attorney and these can be anyone you choose such as your spouse, partner, family members or close friends. Clearly, they should be people you trust explicitly. One could be a professional adviser, such as a solicitor, who could oversee the activities of the main Attorney.
There are two different types of LPA. One of them covers decisions about your property and finances, which would have been especially helpful in Kate and Derek’s situation. The other covers decisions about your health and welfare. You can choose to have one or both.
You can appoint the same person or persons to be your Attorney for both LPAs or you can choose different Attorneys.
The LPA will only be valid if you have the mental capacity to set it up and have not been put under any pressure to create it.
It must be countersigned to this effect by someone who knows you well or a trusted third party, such as a solicitor, and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
What happens if I don’t have a Lasting Power of Attorney?
“If you lose capacity to make your own decisions but have not made an LPA, it is possible for your spouse, members of your family or friends to apply to the Court of Protection, to be appointed as your Deputy or Deputies. However, this is an expensive, complicated and lengthy process compared to putting an LPA in place,” warns Lucy.
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This article is current at the date of publication set out above and is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.