The “financial mess”
Kate Garraway is a presenter on ITV’s Good Morning Britain. In March 2020 her husband, Derek Draper, aged 52 at the time, was admitted to hospital with coronavirus and deteriorated so much that he was placed in a coma. He suffered multiple organ failure that damaged his liver and pancreas.
Derek spent over a year in hospital and even now, 18 months later, is still sleeping for 20 hours a day. He needs round the clock care and although he can understand what is happening, he is unable to communicate much.
Kate has written a book about her family’s situation and spoken openly a number of times on ITV about the difficulties she faced, notably managing the family finances. For example, their car is in Derek’s name, therefore so is the insurance, as are most of the household bills and most of their finances. Kate couldn’t speak to any of these providers as she is not the named account holder; she couldn’t access most of their cash, Derek’s credit card or re-mortgage their home as it required Derek’s signature.
Clearly neither of them could have anticipated this situation, but the difficulties faced could have been avoided.
Lasting Power of Attorney
If you lose mental capacity or the ability to manage your affairs, a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) gives your loved ones the legal authority to act on your behalf. Do not assume that being married or being next of kin automatically grants such powers, it doesn’t. And this case clearly shows that.
If you become incapacitated and don’t have a registered LPA, your loved ones can apply through the courts for the right to manage your affairs, but this is a long and costly process that could easily take 12 months, cost many thousands of pounds and be a painful use of your time and energy.
You don’t have to be old…
Derek was only 52 when he caught coronavirus. I was 37 when I was taken to hospital in an ambulance and subsequently diagnosed with epilepsy. That scared the bejesus out of me, so my wife now has power of attorney over me, just in case. You don’t have to be old to be ill.
By planning ahead, you choose who you trust to make important decisions about your care, health, and finances. Like me, sometimes you can be seriously ill without warning, by which time it could be too late to put LPAs in place.
There are two types of LPA: Property & Financial Affairs and Health & Welfare. They are separate documents so you can appoint different attorneys in each and if you run a business, you can also have a business-specific LPA. Don’t avoid doing the Health & Welfare if you’ve done the Property & Financial Affairs. Yes, it asks some slightly more thought-provoking questions, but that’s the whole point of doing this in the first place!
I often explain that LPAs are insurance policies – hopefully you will never need them but if you do, you’ll be glad you have them. Each LPA costs £82, a small price to pay for a lot of peace of mind.
If you have any questions about any of this, pick up the phone and talk to me. I can tell you from personal experience registering LPAs is well worth doing.