Kate Garraway stuck in a ‘legal rabbit hole’ without LPA

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted in Wills on Wednesday, March 17th, 2021

Over the past year, we have watched the figures mount to shocking levels as increasing numbers of people have lost their lives to the COVID-19 virus. We have previously spoken about the importance of making a Will, to ensure your loved ones are protected should the worst happen. However, television presenter Kate Garraway has found herself in a different – and yet equally nightmarish – situation.

On 30 March 2020, her husband Derek Draper was rushed to hospital after testing positive for coronavirus. Almost a year later, he remains hospitalised in a minimally conscious state as the UK’s longest COVID-19 sufferer.

A legal rabbit hole

While dealing with her husband’s medical emergency, Kate hadn’t anticipated the corresponding legal difficulties that would accompany Derek’s long hospitalisation. In an interview with the Sunday Times, she said that she was unable to access any of his bank or credit cards or their joint savings account; she was also unable to remortgage their house, or get free mobile phone replacements when the family’s broke, without his signature. Regarding Derek’s medical treatment, Kate is also unable to access his medical notes due to data protection law.

Because the couple didn’t make a lasting power of attorney (LPA), which would allow one spouse to manage the other’s affairs if one became mentally incapacitated, Kate’s only recourse is to apply to the court to be a deputy. This is a much longer process than an LPA application, and in Kate’s situation, relies on the court judging Derek as sufficiently mentally incapacitated. As he has had moments of consciousness where he has been able to say some words and recognise familiar faces, Derek’s mental state is currently ambiguous.

Why an LPA makes sense

Making an LPA is a shorter and less expensive process than applying for a deputyship, and allows you to choose the person you would like to act on your behalf while you still retain capacity. This means that you can select a person or people you trust to exercise control over your affairs, rather than have a court decide for you.

There are two types of LPA – one to enable your attorney to deal with your finances and property (Property and Financial Affairs LPA) and one that allows them to make decisions about your medical care and personal wellbeing (Health and Welfare LPA). If Derek had appointed Kate as his attorney, she would have been able to act on his behalf while he was unable to make financial decisions for himself, for example by accessing his bank account and credit cards and remortgaging the house. With a Health and Welfare LPA, Kate would have had access to Derek’s medical notes, enabling her to make better informed decisions about his care.

Don’t delay

Unlike any other time in living memory, this past year has taught us to expect the unexpected. Making an LPA now means that your selected attorney would have control over your financial and medical affairs at a very difficult time, without a protracted legal battle and the costs associated with this.

We can help you avoid a situation like the one Kate Garraway now finds herself in. Our expert Wills, Trusts & Probate team have years of expertise in assisting clients to draft LPAs, helping them feel more secure about their future. To get started, please call 0330 221 8855 or email our team at enquiries@attwaters.co.uk

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