We all like to think that we’ve pretty much got our life planned out for the next five years or so. In fact, it’s one of the most common interview questions used, so we’ve all thought about where we want to be and what we want to be doing just 1,825 days from now. The trouble is that life often has some big surprises for us just around the next corner, and for many over the past couple of years that’s been the spectre of long-term illness as a result of Covid-19.
The pandemic has brought it home to thousands of people that the future is anything but certain. We cannot predict what will happen, but what we can do is minimise the chances of a major life event from impacting us and those around us. This was clearly demonstrated in the case of the TV journalist Kate Garraway and her husband.
The Garraways had their lives turned upside down in 2020, when husband Derek was diagnosed with Covid-19. Initially, Derek suffered the usual symptoms associated with the illness. But unfortunately for him, the virus progressed rapidly and he was quickly hospitalised. This was the beginning of what was to be a year-long battle with the illness – a battle that both Derek and Kate are still fighting today.
Spending weeks in a coma meant that Kate had to take up the reins for not only his care, but managing the family finances too. The trouble was that because the Garraways had not arranged any Lasting Power of Attorney documents, Kate was unable to access crucial financial contracts or even Derek’s medical notes, even though she was his spouse. Something as simple as a broken mobile phone, which had Derek contacted the provider would have been free to replace, cost Kate £900 as she was not the named person on the phone contract.
Kate couldn’t access Derek’s bank accounts or credit cards, their joint savings, or even the mortgage, as everything was in Derek’s name. She was forced to rely on the kindness of friends for financial support.
For six months, Kate was stuck in limbo, unable to do anything. It took a huge financial and emotional toll on her and her family, while all the time wondering if the man she loved was going to make it through what was a serious illness that he is still receiving treatment for today.
All of this heartache could have been avoided if an LPA had been put in place beforehand.
Lasting Power of Attorney lets you choose who takes care of your affairs if you become incapacitated. There are two types of LPA – a financial document that covers property and financial affairs such as banking, and a health and welfare option that covers decisions made concerning your care and medical treatment options. Most people opt for the financial LPA, as it has the biggest immediate impact on the entire family, especially if the main source of a household’s income is struck down.
The financial LPA registration fee is around £82, or you can get both documents registered for approximately £164. There’s a lot of paperwork involved, and it is a laborious process that’s best done with the help of an experienced solicitor. However, once it’s done and registered, you have the reassurance that your chosen attorney will carry out your expressed wishes and in your best interest.
The alternative is a court-appointed attorney, which costs a lot more and takes much, much longer to arrange.
Go onto the government website https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney where you can download the documents for both financial and health and welfare LPAs. Complete the documents carefully, ensuring that every section is filled in signed (you’ll be doing a lot of signatures!).
Our Top Tip: Once you’ve completed your LPA documents, have them checked carefully by an experienced solicitor. They’ll be able to tell you if everything has been filled in correctly and that there are no errors that could jeopardise the final document or cause the Office of the Public Guardian to reject the registration. Once everything has been checked and double-checked, the documents can be submitted with the required payment for registration which can take up to five months.
It really is that simple. But a little bit of paperwork now could save months or even years of heartache further down the line should life derail your plans with an accident or illness. If you’re still unsure as to how to organise an LPA, talk to one of our legal experts today for impartial, no-nonsense advice.
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