Private Client Lawyer Stephen Hewitt discusses how the ITV Kate Garraway documentary “Finding Derek” highlights the importance of having Lasting Powers of Attorney in place.
"Morning news presenter Kate Garraway’s story of her husband Derek’s year long battle with Covid-19 and his hospitalisation was heart breaking to watch. Her struggles were made even more difficult by the lack of legal protection she and Derek had in place for themselves and their family and the practical problems that caused.
Kate has talked openly on TV about the fact Derek managed their finances and did not have powers of attorney in place. With most of their financial accounts and insurance policies in his name, Kate was unable to access funds to manage her husbands care or refinance their mortgage. The lack of a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney meant that she also had far fewer rights in relation to access to medical notes and was kept updated only in her role as next of kin.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows you to appoint Attorneys to make decisions on your behalf if you become physically or mentally incapable of making them yourself.
What types of Lasting Powers of Attorney are there?
There are two types, the first dealing with Finance and Property and the second with Health & Welfare.
If, before his illness, Derek had put in place a properly drafted Finance and Property Lasting Power of Attorney naming Kate as his attorney then access to accounts and insurance policies in his name would have been straightforward. A Health & Welfare Power of Attorney would have allowed her full access to his medical notes and input on medical decisions as though she stood in his shoes.
Who needs Powers of Attorney?
Powers of Attorney are often regarded as for the elderly, infirm or vulnerable. This may be true, but as Kate’s story shows, nobody knows when a loved one may suffer from illness or incapacitation particularly in this pandemic era.
Recent research highlights 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 do so. The reality is that unless a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney is in place that may not happen.
Only 22% of the adult population currently have such a Lasting Power of Attorney in place and many applications for Lasting Powers of Attorney are rejected by the Office of the Public Guardian because they have not been correctly drafted.
When should I get Lasting Powers of Attorney?
It is really important to plan ahead and put in place protection for you and your family with properly drafted Lasting Powers of Attorney for Finance and Property and Health and Welfare prepared by specialist lawyers."
Stephen Hewitt is an experienced solicitor skilled in helping people make the right choices when drafting their Lasting Powers of Attorney. He is also a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly. You can contact him here, or another of our specialists in this area via our contact page.