Friday, 19 March 2021
You may well have been following the plight of TV presenter Kate Garraway’s husband Derek Draper. Almost a year ago Derek (aged 53) was placed on a ventilator after contracting coronavirus and he remains in hospital in intensive care. He is reported to be the UK’s longest surviving Covid inpatient.
Kate has highlighted that this dreadful situation has been compounded by the fact she does not have Power of Attorney for Derek. This means she has been unable to access any of Derek’s bank or credit card cards or to refinance their mortgage. Without Power of Attorney, even though she is his wife, she is not even allowed to see his medical notes due to data protection rules.
All these problems could have been prevented had the couple put in place Powers of Attorney. Sadly this is something they had talked about but had never got round to doing. Kate recalled a conversation she had with her husband several years ago saying “We had a whole conversation and Derek said we have to appoint Power of Attorney in case anything happens. He said I’d be his. And I’m sure I made some joke, saying “Well, you’re not being mine.” And we were laughing and having all these sorts of jokes. So I know we’ve had that conversation. But it isn’t logged anywhere. Or if it is, I can’t find it.”
A Power of Attorney is a document which gives another person(s) authority to act on your behalf when you are either unable to do so yourself. It can give power to this person to make decisions in relation to your financial affairs and/or your personal welfare.
The key advantage of having a Power of Attorney is that it provides a straightforward way of ensuring management of your affairs. You can choose who to appoint - someone you know and trust - and also the extent of the powers they will have.
There is a common misconception that your next of kin will automatically be entitled to manage your affairs should it become necessary. If you do not grant a Power of Attorney while you still have capacity to do so, a court order for Guardianship will be required to give someone the authority instead. Unlike with a Power of Attorney where you decide who you would like to act for you, it is the court who decides who is suitable to act as Guardian. If you haven’t appointed an Attorney to act you then your assets may be frozen until such time as the court can appoint a Guardian.
Powers of Attorney are an essential way of ensuring your wishes are respected should you ever require assistance with your affairs. Seeking professional advice about the benefits of Power of Attorney is the best way forward and our lifetime legal team is here to guide you through the process.
If you would like any assistance with Powers of Attorney then please contact one of our team on 01383 721141.
The documentary Finding Derek will air on ITV Tuesday March 23 at 9pm.