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Why everyone needs a Will and Power of Attorney
Sue Grogan, Managing Director of Joined-Up Working has written this guest blog. Sue talks about real life experiences of why it is important to have a Will and a Power of Attorney.
My Uncle Paul died years ago aged 59, leaving Auntie Penny and cousins James and Anthony bereft. The sadness of his death was one thing but money problems started soon afterwards. He was an Architect Consultant and doing well until he became ill and couldn’t work.
He didn’t make a Will.
They were a traditional household, he worked and Penny stayed at home looking after James and Anthony. They had a joint bank account, with the house in his name.
After Paul died and there was no Will, everything went to Probate. The bank froze the joint bank account so Penny literally had no money. She had to borrow from my Mum and Dad to pay the mortgage, bills and buy food till Probate cleared. It was difficult as Dad was paying for two households as Mum was also a traditional housewife.
First lesson learned. Get a Will in place for your loved one and yourself.
When Dad was 80 when he became very forgetful. I worked in the NHS and saw the effect Stroke, Heart Attack and Dementia has on people and the speed it happens. One minute they are walking, talking, working and socialising, the next they are in hospital unable to do much for themselves and their ability to think, talk and make decisions has almost gone.
Dad was diagnosed with Alzheimers. By now he had no Mental Capacity to make decisions. Due to the experience of Paul, Mum and Dad had individual bank accounts, a joint account and valid Wills. There wasn’t Power of Attorney though which made me dealing with the bank and hospital very tricky on occasions.
Dad passed away aged 85 and the Will kicked in. Probate went through and the finances weren’t a problem.
Second lesson learned – get Power of Attorney in place.
After Dad died my brother and I got Power of Attorney for Mum. He lives in the USA which gives practical difficulties. We took out responsibility for Health & Welfare and Property & Finance.
Mum had a fall aged 92 and broke her hip, spending weeks in hospital following an emergency hip replacement. I took responsibly for her finances. Like many older people, she has no internet. She pays bills in cash, writes cheques but has recently agreed to have direct debits set up.
I invoked the Finances Power of Attorney with her bank. The paperwork was straight forward and didn’t take long. I was able to set her account to online, paid the bills and put her mind at rest.
Third lesson learned – life is so much easier when you have the right legal documents in place.
I work full time. I’m used to dealing with authority, systems and processes but even I found working whilst sorting out getting Mum discharged from hospital with the right Care package absolutely exhausting.
I learnt so much from these experiences and wrote a book to help other people. It’s practical, easy to read and is for people aged 45 – 65 who are working whilst having Care or Eldercare Responsibilities for someone with Dementia (or other later life condition).
My message to you is:
Sort out a Will and Power of Attorney for yourself and your loved ones right now. None of us know what’s round the corner. It will make life much easier for you all.
Don’t end up in the position my Auntie Penny was.
If you’d like to read my handbook it’s called
“Dementia: A Practical Handbook for Working People Caring for a Loved One”. Available on Amazon along with two other self help books I’ve written.
Contact Sue Grogan – Director of Joined-Up Working: