COVID-19 Cases highlight the need for a Lasting Power of Attorney

Important Message  regarding Lasting Powers of Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document you can put in place so that someone you trust can look after your finances and care needs for you.  Most people incorrectly assume that this is only useful if and when you lose mental capacity as you get older.

In fact, a Lasting Power of Attorney (or “LPA” for short) can be invoked at any age, not just in later life.  If you become seriously ill, have a bad accident, or simply feel that you need help from another person, your LPAs provide a straightforward way for your nominated deputies to step in and help at any point.

For this reason we recommend that everyone should consider putting both types of LPA (“Financial Decisions” and “Health and Care Decisions”) in place well before they think they will be needed and while they still have the mental capacity to do so.

Broadcaster Kate Garraway speaks of financial worries while her husband is in hospital

The COVID-19 pandemic this year has provided many stark examples of how otherwise fit and healthy people can be rendered unable to care for themselves at short notice. 

In one sad high profile case, broadcaster Kate Garraway has recently spoken of her worries after her husband of 15 years was struck down by COVID-19 in March 2020, and still remains seriously ill in hospital at the time of writing this article. 

Ms Garraway has talked about the additional difficulties she has faced by not being able to access bank accounts or deal with insurance policies and other legal documents that are in her husband Derek’s name.  It is a common misconception that spouses have an automatic right to manage each other’s finances but this is not the case without a Lasting Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions in place.

Daughter arrested after taking her mother with dementia out of care home

Another recent COVID-19 related case which attracted media attention is that of retired nurse Ylenia Angeli who attempted to remove her 97 year old mother with dementia from her care home. 

As we have seen in the media, many care homes have struggled to implement the Government’s COVID-19 safety guidelines and as a result have prevented relatives visiting their loved ones.  Mrs Angeli hadn’t been able to visit her mother for nine months and with a second lockdown looming wanted to be the one to take care of her mother as she was terrified at the thought of not seeing her again.  

Sadly for the family, in this case they only had a Lasting Power of Attorney for Financial Decisions in place and no Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Care Decisions.   This meant that the care home had legal responsibility for her mother and had no choice but to call the police who arrested Mrs Angeli and returned her mother to the care home. 

What to do if you have not got a Lasting Power of Attorney?

In both of the cases highlighted above, the only option available for the families is to apply to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy to act on behalf of the husband or mother. 

Unlike an LPA which can be invoked immediately, this is an expensive and drawn out procedure which takes months and is expensive, both in up-front costs and annual fees.  The Deputy is also appointed on terms that the Court of Protection decides and not the person who needs assistance.  We would in nearly all cases advise that a Lasting Power of Attorney set up in advance of any problems occurring is the better option.

How Backhouse Solicitors can help you with Lasting Powers of Attorney

If you would like to read more about Lasting Powers of Attorney our website has more details here, including a downloadable guide. 

If you would like to speak to one of our friendly and expert solicitors, we offer a FREE 30 minute consultation to discuss your needs and to explain how we can help.

Tel: 01245 893400
Email: [email protected]
Visit: 17 Duke Street, Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1JU (Currently only for pre-booked appointments)

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