Lasting Powers of Attorney – not just for later in life

5th November 2020

Kate Garraway, tv and radio presenter, recently spoke out about the devastating financial situation she is currently facing as a result of her husband’s battle with coronavirus. Her husband, Derek Draper, was admitted to hospital back in March after contracting coronavirus and to this day remains in a critical condition.

She expressed how difficult it has been for her and her family financially in light of the fact that a number of bank accounts, their car, car insurance, etc are in Derek’s sole name. After confirming that she does not hold a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for Derek, she expressed how hard it can be to deal with these things and the emotional turmoil when a loved one has been sick for a prolonged period of time.

Kate’s situation highlights the importance of having LPAs in place, especially in relation to a person’s property and financial affairs. They can sometimes be perceived as something you put in place later on in life or at the time illness strikes but they should be made well before they may be needed as an ‘insurance policy’, if ever you are unable to manage your affairs due to an accident, illness or any other unforeseen circumstance.

An LPA is a legal document enabling an adult with the requisite level of understanding (the Donor) to choose another person or persons (the Attorney/s) to make decisions on their behalf. There are two types of LPA. A Property and Financial Affairs LPA enables the Attorneys to make decisions about the Donor’s finances. Under this power, Attorneys may take on such tasks as operating bank accounts and dealing with investments. It can also include one-off tasks such as selling the Donor’s house. A Health and Welfare LPA enables the Attorneys to make decisions about the Donor’s healthcare and welfare but only if the Donor lacks the capacity to make those decisions themself. An LPA can be used as soon as it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

Just as everyone should have a Will, we believe that it is wise to consider having both types of LPA in place as prudent forward planning. This will ensure that matters run as smoothly as possible for both the Donor and those close to the Donor, as Kate’s situation has recently highlighted.

In the unfortunate situation where someone becomes incapable of managing their affairs without a suitable LPA in place, someone must make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed a Deputy, in order to manage the affairs of that person. This is a lengthy and involved process which can prove costly. It is likely that Kate will have to explore her options when it comes to her husband’s mental and physical state as to whether she feels a Deputyship application is necessary.

We are in unprecedented times and the uncertainty and stress caused by the coronavirus is affecting us all. We can help with the preparation and registration of LPAs and provide specialist advice on the use, nature and effect of the LPAs. We can take instructions and prepare documents remotely and, in most circumstances, we are still able to act as certificate provider, and provide full advice on maximising the flexibility of these important documents for your personal circumstances.

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