The importance of Lasting Powers of Attorney
Recent events have been a timely reminder for all of us of the importance of Lasting Powers of Attorney, but one high-profile story in particular has illustrated the problems that can occur when the worst happens.
Good Morning Britain’s Kate Garraway has been in the headlines raising vital awareness regarding the serious nature of Covid-19 following her husband Derek Draper contracting the illness in March 2020. Derek has been battling the virus since and has recently returned home with 24-hour care.
Kate explained the difficulties she has had with managing family finances in November 2020 in an interview on ITV. Kate explained “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.”
The Metro more recently reported that Kate and Derek had considered lasting powers of attorney but had not put these into place or cannot find these. Kate said: ‘We had a whole conversation and Derek said we have to appoint power of attorney in case anything happens. He said I’d be his. And I’m sure I made some kind of joke, saying, “Well, you’re not being mine.” And we were laughing and having all these sorts of jokes.’ She said: ‘So I know we’ve had that conversation. But it isn’t logged anywhere. Or if it is, I can’t find it.’
Many people don’t realise that even spouses and civil partners cannot automatically make decisions for each other even in situations such as this. Sadly Kate will have to apply for a court appointed deputyship in order to gain legal authority to manage her husband’s finances; a lengthy and costly process.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are something that many people delay, but if this awful situation has highlighted anything it is that no one is too young to put LPAs in place and should the worst happen, not many would have regretted a previous, relatively small expenditure.
Rebecca Dixon is an SFE accredited solicitor in the private client department at Barker Gotelee, Suffolk solicitors.