How a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) can make a difficult time easier
Kate Garraway’s ITV documentary ‘Finding Derek’ told the heartbreaking story of her husband Derek Draper who overcame his battle with Covid but spent a year unconscious in hospital in an induced coma. Thankfully, he has now been taken off life support and returned home but still requires round-the-clock care while he slowly recovers.
Common problems without an LPA
In the documentary, Kate spoke candidly about being unable to access her husband’s funds in order to pay for his care and her lack of authority to see his medical records.
It has been reported that Kate and Derek did discuss making an LPA but, sadly, they never got around to actually making them.
This is an all too familiar tale, with couples often visiting solicitors when one of them has already started to lose capacity. Planning in advance who will deal with your financial or healthcare decisions in the event that you are no longer able to ensures that they can take over as swiftly and easily as possible.
Many people wrongly assume that marriage allows spouses the right to make decisions for each other in the event of illness, or that nominating someone as your next of kin means they will be able to make decisions on your behalf. Legally, this is not the case. No other person can access your finances or records, or make decisions for you, unless you have given them this authority in advance.
Making an LPA
An LPA is a legal document that appoints another person, or several people, to act as your attorney and make decisions on your behalf when you no longer can. You should only appoint people you know and trust.
There are separate LPAs for financial decisions and for healthcare decisions. Having an LPA for your finances does not automatically give your attorneys authority to access your medical records and having an LPA for your healthcare decisions does not give your attorneys the right to make financial decisions on your behalf. It is important to understand the nature and extent of the authority you are giving, and you should always seek advice on this if you are at all unsure.
Considering the idea that you or a loved one may lose capacity is never easy but discussing and planning your future in this way ensures that you and your family are prepared for whatever may occur. Taking steps to protect yourself in this way also helps to reduce the burden and worry on your family if you do lose capacity.
Making your wishes known
Making LPAs is not all about passing your decision-making autonomy over to another person. A well-drafted LPA allows you to express your own wishes as to how your attorney should act, the decisions they should make, and even who else they should consult.
Once you have appointed an attorney, and even before you make an LPA, you should aim to have open conversations with them about the types of decisions they may need to make on your behalf and your wishes for how you would like them to act in the circumstances.
How we can help
Our private client solicitors are knowledgeable and experienced, and we can help you to make sure that your LPA not only gives the appropriate authority but that your attorneys are aware of your specific concerns and wishes.
Contact our experienced Wills, trusts and probate team on 01245 258 892 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with the estate details for a no-obligation quote.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.
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