TV Presenter Kate Garraway’s tragic situation highlights that certain paperwork shouldn’t just be a priority for the elderly.

Kate Garraway’s husband Derek Draper has suffered a year-long battle with Covid-19. Amid the heart-breaking suffering of Kate, Derek and their children, the financial difficulties she encountered because Derek didn’t have Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) compounded their agony.

Kate couldn’t access his bank or credit card accounts, their joint savings, nor refinance the mortgage. When the family’s mobile phones broke, she was charged almost £900 for replacement handsets that would have been free had Derek, the account holder, been able to sign the paperwork. The knock-on effect was serious: she had to rely on friends’ financial support.

An LPA is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people – known as attorneys – to make decisions on your behalf if you ‘lack mental capacity’ because you have an accident or an illness and therefore cannot make your own decisions.

When you set up an LPA, you’re essentially saying: “If or when I lose my faculties I want this particular person or persons to take over so that my money is not locked away and those who need it will be able to access it.”

If they don’t have one, sorting out the affairs of a loved one is a long and expensive process courtesy of the Court of Protection. The court chooses a deputy to make decisions on their behalf, dictates the scope of decision-making power and will charge £365 to apply, a £100 assessment fee for a first-time deputy and a subsequent supervision fee, between £35 and £320 a year. Even if a caring relative is around, it can take up to a year before assets are made available after a court application.

Kate has admitted in an interview that arranging an LPA had been on her radar. “Derek said [at some point in the past] we have to appoint power of attorney in case anything happens,” she said. “He said I’d be his. And I’m sure I made some kind of joke, saying, ‘Well, you’re not being mine’… So I know we’ve had that conversation. But it isn’t logged anywhere. Or if it is, I can’t find it.”

It takes up to 15 weeks to be returned and costs £82 (plus additional fees if you want a professional such as us to draft it) if you live in England and Wales (or £164 for both health and financial LPAs), £81 in Scotland (where the document is known as continuing power of attorney) and £151 in Northern Ireland (where it is called enduring powers of attorney). If you claim certain means-tested benefits or earn less than £12,000 a year, you may be entitled to a fee reduction or even an exemption.

It’s a morbid subject but getting lasting power of attorney is the smart thing to do. For more on wills and power of attorney, please contact Ollie and the team at Tyto Law to have a chat with us about how we can help you get your affairs in order and peace of mind for you and your loved ones on 01724 642 842 or by email on [email protected]