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Nicola Watts: Why Power of Attorney advice is vital

Often people think about putting in place Lasting Power of Attorney for an elderly relative. Although it is something we talk to clients about all the time, I’m writing this article now having seen two high profile cases in the press in recent weeks which underline the vital Financial Planning importance of Power of Attorney.

Derek Draper, the husband of Good Morning Britain present Kate Garraway, has been critically ill and remains in intensive care, having contracted Coronavirus back in March.  She has opened up that the financial side of her life is becoming an increasing problem. With his name being on many bills, insurance policies and bank accounts, Kate has found it hard to speak with companies, as she’s not the named person.

She is reported as saying: “One of the practical problems – which a lot of people would have experienced if they’ve got the absence of someone in their life – like many things, the car is entirely in Derek’s name, the insurance is in Derek’s name, a lot of our bank accounts. There are lots of financial goings on which are making life very complicated because I can’t get access to things because legally, I haven’t got Power of Attorney.”

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The second example confirms the need for the Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. Some of you will have seen the recent story in the news when a retired nurse was arrested after she removed her 97 year old mother from a care home.  The family took “drastic action”, due to the lack of face to face contact during the pandemic.

The family had Power of Attorney over the grandmother’s finances, but not for her health and wellbeing. Because of this, the care home were legally responsible for her care, so when her family tried to take her from her home with the intention of caring for her themselves, her daughter was arrested. 

Obviously, neither family could have anticipated that they would find themselves in this dreadful position. Their situation, although highlighted by the extraordinary circumstances we’re currently living in, highlights a common need, the need to have both Property & Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney and Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney in place. 

The role of a Financial Planner means that we have to think about all aspect of a client’s financial life. It’s not just limited to pensions and investments. It goes further than just cashflow modelling. It’s about making sure that they are set up for the worst scenario, not just in terms of life cover, critical illness cover or income protection, but also making sure that they have these important documents in place. 

We sit in a very honoured position where we know an awful lot about our clients, often more than anyone else. With that comes a huge responsibility, but also huge satisfaction that our clients’ needs are at the centre of all that we do. 

Nicola Watts APFS Chartered Financial Planner, Chartered Wealth Manager, CFP Chartered FSCI – director of Jane Smith Financial Planning

After joining the family business in 2000, Nicola qualified to provide advice in 2001, and has been a director of the business since 2006. Since the retirement of her mother (Jane Smith), Nicola bears sole responsibility for the management of the firm, and the advice provided to clients. Nicola is married to David and has two young children, Emily and Olivia, and Poppy the black labrador.

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