Why Kate Garraway’s story acquired me on everlasting energy of lawyer
An interview that Kate Garraway gave a few months ago about her husband’s long struggle with Covid has stayed with me – and not for reasons one might think. Amid the heartbreaking suffering of Garraway and her children, the financial hardship she faced because her disabled spouse, Derek Draper, did not have a Permanent Power of Attorney (LPA) added to her agony.
Kate couldn’t access his bank or credit card accounts, their shared savings, or refinance the mortgage. When the family’s cell phones broke, she was billed nearly £ 900 for replacement handsets, which would have been free if her husband, the account holder, had been able to sign the papers. The consequences were serious: she was dependent on financial support from friends.
An LPA is a legal document with which you can instruct one or more people – so-called lawyers – to make decisions on your behalf if you are “mentally incapable of acting” due to an accident or illness and therefore cannot decide for yourself.
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When you set up an LPA, you are essentially saying, “If or when I lose my skills, I want that person or people to take over that person so my money is not locked away and accessible to those who need it.”
If they don’t have one, resolving a loved one’s affairs is a lengthy and expensive process courtesy of the Court of Protection. The court elects an alternate to make decisions on their behalf, determines the level of decision-making powers and charges £ 365 for filing an application, an assessment fee of £ 100 for a first-time alternate and a subsequent oversight fee of between £ 35 and £ 320 per year. Even if a family carer is nearby, it can take up to a year for assets to be made available following a judicial request.
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Kate admits she had a power of attorney on her radar. “Derek said [at some point in the past] We have to give power of attorney in case something happens, ”she said. “He said I would be his. And I’m sure I made a joke by saying, ‘Well, you’re not mine’ … So I know we had this conversation. But it is not listed anywhere. Or if so, I can’t find it. “
After recently buying an apartment with my partner Chris and writing a will, I thought I was sitting nicely. I would have automatically assumed that an LPA would be essential for older people – one in three of us develops dementia. But the Kate Garraway story made me realize that if I suddenly lost my mental capacity, Chris would not be able to reschedule our house or sell it if necessary. Nor would he be able to access my bank account and savings to pay bills solely on my behalf. I just couldn’t stand the thought that in addition to the need for something bad to happen to me, he was also experiencing financial stress.
It took me four months to do what was necessary. There are two types of permanent authority: Health and Welfare and Property and Financial Matters. I chose real estate and financial affairs. Choose your lawyer (or lawyers) and fill out the forms. That seems easy, I thought. But it takes a lot of signatures – your lawyers have to sign of course, witnesses who sign have to sign and then you need someone to act (and sign) as a certificate provider. The certificate provider is someone qualified to tell you that you currently have the mental ability to understand the decision you made – I chose a friend who has known me for 10 years.
So check three times that all relevant pages are properly signed and dated – because I got myself wrong at first. Then send your form with your registration fee to the guardian’s office.
Returns take up to 15 weeks and cost £ 82 if you live in England and Wales (or £ 164 for Health and Financial LPA), £ 81 in Scotland (where the document is known as a permanent authorization) and £ 151 in Northern Ireland (where it is referred to as permanent powers). If you have certain means-tested benefits or earn less than £ 12,000 a year, you may be eligible for a fee reduction or even an exemption.
“God, what if we have a serious accident together and both end up in a coma?” I asked Chris as I filled out the paperwork. In the end, I appointed two lawyers: my dear friend Ed and Chris. I specifically entrust Ed with my finances – and I know he would be a good sounding board if Chris wants to discuss any monetary decisions. Make sure those you ask for a lawyer are happy with the decision and understand their responsibilities.
It’s a morbid subject, but getting permanent power of attorney is the adult thing. For more information on wills, funeral plans and powers of attorney, visit inews.co.uk online. Everything you need to know is there.