Kate Garraway’s heartbreaking story of her husband Derek Draper’s year-long battle with Covid has shone a light on the practical implications of not having lasting powers of attorney (LPA) in place.
In the ITV documentary ‘Finding Derek’ broadcast this week, Kate Garraway opened up about the financial implications after her husband fell into a coma with Covid and, a year later, she was left unable to access funds to manage her husband’s care or arrange the re-mortgage of their house. She was not even able to see his medical notes, owing to data protection law.
Research by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) shows that 65% of us think that 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 and welfare lasting power of attorney is in place. Whilst there has been a rise in the number of enquiries made about LPAs during the pandemic, only 22% of people in the UK actually have one.
To avoid this difficult kind of legal situation it is important to use a specialist lawyer who is experienced in this area of the law, and is trained to support people making these crucial, complex and difficult decisions. Using a SFE approved solicitor can help reassure you that your needs will be fully met. According to Which? 22,000 LPAs are rejected every year, so it is essential that you get your legal documents right.
What are lasting powers of attorney?
A lasting power of attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people to help you make decisions or, if necessary, make decisions on your behalf should you not have capacity to do so.
What kind of decisions can be made using a lasting power of attorney?
There are two types of lasting power of attorney:
- Property and financial affairs; and
- Health and welfare
The property and financial affairs document allows your attorney(s) to manage your finances by paying your bills, accessing your bank accounts, managing your investments and, if necessary, selling your house. It is often assumed that the attorney will only step in once you have lost mental capacity but in actual fact they can act when you still have capacity, provided that they are acting with your permission.
The health and welfare document allows your attorney(s) to make decisions in relation to where you live, your day-to-day care and your medical treatment. You can also give permission for your attorney(s) to make decisions in relation to life-sustaining treatment. This covers everything from giving you antibiotics to palliative care. This document differs from its property counterpart in that the attorney(s) can only act in the event that you have lost mental capacity.
Who can I appoint as my attorney(s)?
You can appoint anyone you would like to be your attorney(s). However, the powers of an attorney are extensive and so it is important that your appointed attorney is someone you can trust completely.
For more information about making and registering an LPA, contact our private client team who will be pleased to help.