There’s no doubt about it, TV presenter Kate Garraway – like so many other people affected by the ongoing pandemic – has had the most awful year.
Her husband, Derek Draper, remains seriously ill in hospital eight months after being admitted with Covid-19 and is still unable to communicate with his wife.
As he battles the serious effects of the virus’ aftermath, Kate recently disclosed that on top of everything else, she is now in the midst of a financial difficulties unable to access the family finances because most of the bills, insurance policies and bank accounts are in her husband’s name.
Kate and Derek, both 53, could never have anticipated the awful situation they now find themselves in.
Yet as Kate herself pointed out recently, in practical terms things would have been much more straightforward if her husband had given her Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) status to manage his property and financial affairs in the event he ever lost mental capacity in the future.
She said: “There is a lot financial going on…which is making life complicated because I can’t get access to things…Because legally, I haven’t got power of attorney.”
Many people think that looking ahead and appointing a Lasting Power of Attorney to manage your finances if you lose capacity is just something old and vulnerable people should do.
However, Kate Garraway’s situation highlights the importance of having an LPA in place whatever your age.
It’s like an insurance policy, hopefully you will never need it but it’s there just in case you are ever unable to manage your own affairs due to an accident, illness or other unforeseen circumstance.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows someone to appoint another person, or people, to act on their behalf if they lose mental capacity and are unable to manage their own affairs.
There are two types of LPA. One for property and financial affairs and one which covers health and welfare decisions and can include end-of-life care.
For an LPA to be valid, the person making it – known as the donor – must fully understand the implications of the arrangement at the time. It’s called having mental capacity. This is why it is so vital to plan ahead even if it feels uncomfortable to do so.
Once someone has lost mental capacity, it is too late to appoint an LPA.
When this happens, as in Kate Garraway’s case, someone must make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed as a Deputy to manage the affairs of the person in question.
This is a lengthy, involved and frequently expensive process which it is always best to avoid if possible by planning ahead.
Using a specialist solicitor to create and register an LPA safeguards against it being drawn up with errors that turn out later to be expensive, time consuming and extremely stressful to put right.
As well as regular articles on our website, we have prepared a series of legal guides to provide more information:
An LPA can only be used once it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, a process that can take several months.
For advice or further information, please contact Wards Solicitors specialist Wills, Probate and Mental Capacity team.
Find your nearest branch of Wards here