SFE research shows common misconception surrounding spouses’ ability to make decisions on each other’s behalf

The documentary “Kate Garraway: Finding Derek” aired last week and highlighted the struggles TV presenter Kate has faced since her husband, Derek Draper, was admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in March 2020. Kate has openly spoken about the financial issues she has faced being unable to access accounts in Derek’s name without a power of attorney.

Kate’s heart-breaking story of her husband Derek’s year-long battle with Covid has been made even more complicated by the lack of legal protection she and Derek had in place. Kate was unable to access funds to manage her husband’s care or refinance her mortgage. She didn’t even have the legal right to see his medical notes, owing to data protection.

Research by Solicitors for the Elderly, the membership organisation for specialist solicitors who support older and vulnerable people, shows that 65% of us think our next-of-kin will make medical and care decisions for us if we are no longer able to. In reality, this isn’t the case unless a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney is in place. Whilst there’s been a rise in the number of enquiries made about Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPAs) during the pandemic, only 22% of people in the UK actually have one.

To avoid this difficult kind of legal situation it’s important to use a specialist lawyer who is experienced in this area of the law, and is trained to support people making these crucial, complex and difficult decisions. According to Which? 22,000 LPAs are rejected every year so it’s essential that you get your legal documents right. LPAs also take a long period of time to register, so best practice would be to create and register the documents early on, so that they are ready to be used if ever needed and provides loved ones with the assurance that they can step in and act with recognised legal authority.

Should you require any assistance with creating Lasting Powers of Attorney, please do get in touch with a member of the Tax & Estate Planning team on 01622 698000.