The importance of making a Lasting Power of Attorney

Absence of LPA highlighted in tragic case of Derek Draper and Kate Garraway.

People up and down the country have been following the heart-breaking story of broadcaster Kate Garraway and her husband Derek Draper’s fight with Covid-19, which one year on still sees him battling in hospital.

In the documentary ‘Finding Derek’, which aired on ITV on 23 March, Kate was seen struggling with the responsibility of trying to help her husband, who spent many months in a coma, as well as caring for their children and working.

But Kate has also had to deal with other stressful issues, including household finances, which were largely in her husband’s name.

And because there was no Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, she has been unable to access bank accounts, insurance policies, assets and other bills, despite being married.

The unpredictable nature of such tragic events means many people, especially younger couples, often fail to put measures in place to ensure their partner has access to their finances if needed.

It is possible to work around this by applying to the Court of Protection to be appointed as Deputy for Health and Welfare, but this can be a very long, expensive and complicated process during an already difficult time. It also requires a test of the vulnerable person’s mental capacity, which, as in Derek Draper’s case, isn’t always cut and dried.

Much easier to plan ahead and put in place an LPA so that either partner can handle the other’s affairs.

So, what exactly is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Simply, an LPA allows you to appoint someone you trust to take care of your health and wellbeing as well as finances when you become unable to.

There are two types:

  • A property and financial affairs LPA allows your appointed individual to deal with paying your bills, managing your bank accounts and investments as well as buying and selling your property; and
  • A health and welfare LPA covers decisions about your health and care, but only when you are deemed incapable of handling it yourself.

For more information about putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney, please contact Penelope Munro or another member of Thrings’ Inheritance and Succession Planning team.