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Harrogate based Personal Law solicitor, Mark Jones, recounts a recent case that illustrates why thinking ahead and being prepared for all eventualities really can make a difference in life changing situations.
While driving to work on I was listening to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 and there was an item on delays at the Court of Protection which struck a chord.
The item related to a lady who suffered catastrophic brain damage as the result of a drug overdose which left her in a permanent vegetative state.
Although she remained alive the medical advice was that she was no longer conscious and had no prospect of recovery and her family wanted the doctors to remove her feeding tubes so that she could die peacefully. The doctors needed the permission of the Court of Protection to do this, however, and it took over four years for permission to be granted.
A common problem in any dealings with the Court of Protection and the Office of the Public Guardian is the need to balance speed with the rights of the patient, which will often require medical advice that can take time to arrange.
A case I dealt with recently concerned a husband and wife. The husband had lost capacity and was in care and his wife dealt with his affairs. When she died arrangements needed to be put in place for somebody else to deal with her husband's finances.
Before losing capacity the husband had signed a Lasting Power of Attorney in favour of two attorneys, being his son and a solicitor.
A Lasting Power of Attorney has to be registered at the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used and this can either be done when the Lasting Power of Attorney is signed or at a later date.
In this particular case, the husband had opted not to register his Lasting Power of Attorney immediately which meant that the registration process had to start from scratch after the wife's death.
The required medical evidence took several months to come through which effectively froze the husband's finances and caused various difficulties including unpaid care fees and delays in the sale of the house.
Although everything was eventually resolved, the delay caused considerable stress for family members at an already difficult time and it was a good example of the importance of thinking ahead and being prepared for all eventualities.
The sad truth is that any of us could lose capacity at any time. Have you considered whether your finances could be dealt with easily if the worst happened?
To review your affairs or for further advice generally please contact Mark Jones on 01423 502211 or email@example.com
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