06 Nov 2020
Wills & Probate
“We’ve all followed the tragic story of Good Morning Britain host, Kate Garraway, whose husband Derek Draper has been in hospital for over eight months, continuing to battle the effects of coronavirus.
“In an interview this week on ITV, she opened up about the difficulties she is having with managing the family finances since Derek was taken ill. As his name is the one on most of the bills and insurance policies, Kate has found that she has not been able to speak to anyone about them as she is not the named account or policy holder.
“As Kate explained on the show, “One of the practical problems – which a lot of people would have experienced if they’ve got the absence of someone in their life – like many things, the car is entirely in Derek’s name, the insurance is in Derek’s name, a lot of our bank accounts. There are lots of financial goings on which are making life very complicated because I can’t get access to things because legally I haven’t got power of attorney.”
Obviously, Kate could never have anticipated that their family would have found themselves in this dreadful situation. Understandably, none of us like to dwell on the unpleasant things that could happen to us. But although it can be a difficult thing to think about, it is really important to plan ahead just in case we, or anyone we know, are unfortunate enough ever to lose our capacity to look after our affairs and make important life decisions.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is an incredibly powerful legal document, without which, loved ones have to apply through the courts for the right to manage the financial affairs of the person who has lost mental capacity or the ability to not be able to manage our affairs. This can be a long and costly process, so if at all possible, it helps to get it sorted while they still have all their faculties. By planning ahead, you can take control and choose who you trust to make important decisions about your health, care and finances on your behalf.
Should you become incapacitated, your Attorney would only ever make a choice for you if you were unable to make that specific decision at the time it needs to be made. For example, if you were to fall into a coma, they would start looking after your affairs, but if you were to wake from the coma and were able to start making your own decisions again, you could.
There are two types, one for financial decisions and one for health and welfare. These are separate documents and you can decide to appoint different Attorneys in each document. You can also appoint Replacement Attorneys to step in if your first choice of Attorney is no longer able to act for you.
As well as being useful for those who lose mental capacity, a financial Lasting Power of Attorney also allows you to appoint someone to act on your behalf if you are (or become) physically unable to deal with your property and financial affairs. In this scenario, you would still remain in control of the decision making.
Ideally, an LPA should be prepared when you are fit and well and able to plan for the future. Once your LPA has been signed by you and your Attorneys, it should be sent to the Office of the Public Guardian for validation.
The Office of the Public Guardian charge a fee of £82 for each separate document and their validation process takes approximately 8 to 10 weeks. If you earn less than £12,000 a year, you may be entitled to a reduced fee. We would advise you to use a solicitor so you’ll also have to pay their legal fees.
The LPA is a powerful legal document. If you’re at all unsure about the process or want advice on why or how to set one up, it is worth seeking legal help. At Harding Evans, our team of friendly, sympathetic expert lawyers have years of experience in dealing with LPAs and can help guide you through the process. Visit our website at www.hardingevans.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01633 244233 or 029 2267 6818.
Harding Evans is a trading name of Harding Evans LLP, a limited liability partnership, registered in England & Wales (registered number: OC311802), authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number: 419663).