One of our clients has kindly taken the time to write to us explaining how vital Lasting Powers of Attorney are. Here is her story (we have changed one or two references so that our client cannot be identified).
My parents had been together since they were teenagers. They had me when my mum was 17 and my dad was 19. They had a long and happy marriage, with two children and five grandchildren. We were just like many other families.
In 2013 my parents came to my 50th birthday celebrations and stayed overnight with us. The next morning however, my dad could not find his car keys. We all set about helping him look for them when my husband noticed them jingling in my dad’s pocket. My dad put his hand in his pocket and said there was nothing there, but upon checking my husband found that it was his keys. My dad couldn’t feel them, or anything else, with his right hand. This prompted a visit to the doctors and after several different appointments, my dad was sadly diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour and was given a life expectancy of six months.
After the initial shock, I set about arranging Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) for both him and my mum. It was essential to get these done as soon as possible as once he started to lose mental capacity, we would no longer be able to do it. We got both sets of LPAs, the Property & Financial Affairs (P&A) as well as the Health & Welfare (H&W). In my dad’s case, the H&W was crucial as it meant that as an attorney, I was kept fully informed of his treatment and care right up until to the very end.
In April 2014 my poor dad died. My mum had cared for my dad during the earlier part of his illness and he only spent two weeks in a hospital. However, his death had a large impact on her. Unfortunately, she struggled with his passing and developed Frontal Temporal Dementia and as my mum also suffered from bi-polar disorder, this was magnified. As a result, she was unable to look after her own finances and began spending money at a furious rate, resulting in a rising amount of debt.
As I had already created and registered a Property and Financial Affairs LPA for her, I was able to act as attorney and reign in the spending by registering the LPA at her bank and taking over control of her finances. This was the most useful document I could have at that time. With it, I was able to pay off and close her credit card and other accruing debts. I was also able to inform companies, mostly mail-order businesses, as well as several other companies, all of whom closed her account on sight of the registered LPA.
It soon became apparent that my mum also could not handle paperwork and I used the LPA to take over her telephone and broadband account, her Gas and Electric accounts, her boiler servicing, her council tax and many other affairs. All of these companies and institutions, who usually refuse to discuss an account due to confidentiality, asked to see a copy of the LPA. I was easily able to present them with the LPA document and am now sent the bills and I manage her accounts online, just as I would my own.
This all happened in one year, with no prior warning. Previous to this, we were an ordinary healthy family that although we had heard about situations like this, had thought it would never happen to us. The LPAs took seven weeks to be registered by the Office of the Public Guardian. It was stressful waiting for them, because my dad was worried. He wanted to know that I would be able to take care of him and of my mum when she was left alone. Had we already had these in place, it would have provided him with more comfort at such a difficult time. I am so glad that I registered LPAs for my mum at the same time as my dad, because seven more weeks of her out of control spending would have been catastrophic.
Three years on my mum’s bank account is healthy; I control all of her spending and take her shopping for anything she may need. There a still a few things not yet resolved but my life is so much easier knowing that if I ever come up against any company not wanting to talk to me, I can present them with the registered LPA offering to either post or email it to them. Many companies just want the document emailed to them which is easy, takes no time at all and then they are happy to talk to me.
As my mum’s mental capacity is deteriorating I have been able to give a copy of her Health and Welfare LPA to her GP’s surgery and they now contact me whenever necessary as well as invite me in for an appointment occasionally to see how I feel about any care my mum might need. At the moment, because they have met me and know that I have power of attorney, I am in control of the situation with both the GP Surgery and Social Services. One very good example of this control is that if Social Services ever wish to assess my mum for care fees, they have to call me to make an appointment. As well as making me aware of the upcoming appointment, it also means I can ask them to post me the form and I can complete it in my own home, without them having to meet me at my mum’s house (which would involve me taking time off work to attend the appointment).
If we had left it any later for both my mum and dad, we would have been unlikely to be able to create the LPAs due to lack of capacity. The thing that surprised me most is how sudden everything was and how unprepared we had been. However by acting quickly and obtaining the LPAs, I was able to ensure that a difficult time was made easier. I now recommend Lasting Powers of Attorneys to all of my extended family and friends as you never know when you could need them.
There is nothing more for us to add except to thank our client for sharing her experience. Please click here or telephone us on 01732 868190 to arrange a visit from a Consultant to discuss creating Lasting Powers of Attorney.