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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
Laura’s blog really struck chord with me, and reminded me why I always react so strongly and positively when I hear anyone discussing a Lasting Power of Attorney.
When Mum started to get a bit scatty we all kind of felt, “Well she’s always been a little eccentric and she’s just getting a bit more so.” I think we were all, to a degree, in denial and before we knew it she simply wasn’t there, in a meaningful way, anymore.
I think at this time she decided she had “had enough” and stopped eating and drinking, to the point where she was slipping gently away. For reasons I understand (if not endorse) her GP stepped in and got her admitted to hospital where she was re-hydrated and restored to a kind of physical health. She was never really there again and then had another four years of “living on” in a number of nursing homes in a condition and quality of life I would not want for a family pet. The homes and staff were great but, because of her condition, she had no quality of life and actually spent some time in a state of distress. Of course at the time I don’t think any of us were even aware of the LPA for health & welfare, but had one been in place it may have allowed us to influence the extent and nature of Mum’s treatment when it was clear to us she had had enough.
Obviously by this point she was beyond signing anything and Dad was, as you can imagine, not in great shape himself. We needed to arrange and pay for nursing home care and, as all their assets were in joint names, nothing could be sold without Mum’s signature. So, we were left with no option but to make a Deputyship Application through the Court of Protection. I can honestly say getting this in place was one of the most stressful experiences of my life and occurred at a time when none of us were emotionally equipped to cope very well. It was a long and tortuous process and although my brother, sister and I are close, the stress definitely strained relationships and led to short tempers and some cross words – just what we didn’t need at a time when the family was already going through a hellish experience.
I think the final straw, when the Application eventually came through, was being obliged to spend £500 of Mum’s money on insurance against my brother, sister and me running off with her assets – assets we had just spent a lot of time, money and emotion accessing to pay for her care.
I can only say from personal experience it is not a process I would wish on anyone, and to think we could have avoided it all by getting a LPA in place in good time – it is something we are currently helping my in-laws get in place and once that is done will do the same for ourselves.
Owen is as an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Taxation and advises clients across a broad range of areas including (but not limited to) planning for sale of a business, Research & Development tax credits and reliefs, staff incentivisation and international taxation.