TV presenter, Kate Garraway, has talked openly to the media about the problems dealing with her husband’s bank accounts and insurance policies whilst he remains in hospital recovering from Covid-19. A nurse has also recently featured in the news after being arrested for trying to remove her elderly mother, who has dementia, from her care home, prior to the latest lockdown.
Local solicitor, Katie Hindmarsh, from LCF Barber Titleys in Harrogate, believes both these situations would have been avoided if a Lasting Power of Attorney had been in place.
Katie said: “Both may be newsworthy examples, but unfortunately they are not unusual cases. During my time as a private client solicitor I have seen families experience many difficulties in assisting their loved ones with decisions about their health and their finances because Lasting Powers of Attorney have not been set up.
“There is a common misconception that next of kin are able to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person. This is incorrect. The only way that an individual has legal authority to make decisions on behalf of someone else in relation to their health is if they are appointed as their attorney. The same applies to decisions in respect of property and finances and often people have no idea that being married or in a civil partnership does not hold any legal weight as far as financial institutions are concerned.
“We would therefore urge everyone to consider putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney, not only for their property and finances, but also for their health and welfare. This would give people peace of mind and enable their loved ones to have the practical ability to do what the person who is incapacitated would want them to.”
A Lasting Power of Attorney allows someone to nominate a trusted friend or relative to make financial or health-related decisions on their behalf. This can be used for business reasons, or for personal reasons including the situation where a person has lost mental or physical capacity. Lasting Powers of Attorney must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used, a process which can take up to three months, therefore it’s important not to delay.