Recent media coverage emphasises the importance of lasting powers of attorney. We look at one recent case and how getting things in order – now more than ever – is crucial in protecting your finances and family.
Many of you will have seen Kate Garraway speaking on Good Morning Britain (‘GMB’) this week about the practical difficulties she is encountering in dealing with her husband’s financial affairs. Kate has given regular media updates about her husband’s condition and how she is coping following him contracting coronavirus earlier this year. She spoke, this week, to her GMB colleagues about the fact that a lot of the marital assets are in her husband’s sole name, such as their car and the car insurance policy and she does not have a lasting power of attorney (‘an LPA’) that enables her to deal with his financial affairs. This is causing her practical difficulties on a day to day basis because, in the absence of this document, she has no legal authority to be able to deal with those assets in any way whatsoever. A simple task of liaising with the insurance company about the car, which is registered in his sole name and which was stolen this week, is proving impossible. In what is already a very challenging and distressing time for her, this is the last thing she needs.
Kate will now have to go through a lengthy and complex process that will involve her having to apply to the Court of Protection for permission to become her husband’s deputy, in order to acquire legal authority to be able to deal with her husband’s assets. This includes anything where he is registered as the sole account holder, such as utilities and insurance policies. Had her husband have executed an LPA under which she was appointed to be his attorney for his property and financial affairs in the event of his incapacity, Kate would now be able to deal with all his assets under the authority of that document. Unfortunately, now that her husband his lost capacity, it is too late for him to execute an LPA.
In addition to Kate’s story, many of you will have seen the widely reported case of Ylenia Angeli, a retired nurse, who was arrested this week for removing her mother from a care home following a dispute with the home about her mother’s health and well-being. Ms Angeli spoke this morning to GMB about the events that had taken place and what had led her to take such drastic action. She spoke about her concerns for her mother’s health and wellbeing as a result of her mother having had no contact with the family for many months due to the restrictions that have been in place. With another month of lockdown now in force, she felt that it would be better for her mother’s care and needs to be with the family, at their home. When the care home disagreed and refused to allow Ms Angeli to take her mother home, Ms Angeli took steps to remover her mother, herself.
When interviewed, she explained that whilst she had the necessary power of attorney (this will either be an LPA or the former version known as an Enduring Power of Attorney) over her mother’s financial affairs, she did not have a power of attorney over her mother’s health and welfare. A health and welfare LPA is an entirely separate document to a property and finances LPA. It enables the appointed person (the attorney) to make all decisions, of a wide nature, in relation to an individual’s health and welfare in the event that the individual does not have capacity to make those decisions for themselves. Such decisions cover a whole host of issues, including where the person should reside, their daily routine, their medical treatment as well as decisions about life-sustaining treatment. A health and welfare LPA would also assist Kate Garraway in the event of any dispute over her husband’s care.
The above cases are a reminder to us all that, more than ever than before, it is important to ensure that we get our own affairs in order and before it becomes too late. As the current pandemic has shown us all – life can be turned upside down, literally, overnight.
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