Heather Bateman

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Six years ago Heather Batemans husband Michael was knocked down on a country road. I saw him one minute the next minute I saw him he was lying on the ground. An ambulance came and he never stood up or spoke again it was the most horrific thing.

Michael fell into a coma they’d been married for 28 years and as the main breadwinner his wages paid the household bills and you both made plans for the future. We’ve written our Wills, I assume that would be all I would need for the rest of our lives but as Michael was still alive Heather discovered she wasn’t allowed to use any of his money.

Heather couldn’t legally have access to Michael’s account whilst he was ill because he hadn’t granted her Power of Attorney over his finances before the accident. With that in place she would have had complete control over all of his money, instead she had to apply to the Court of Protection.

That is a court set out to protect the assets of vulnerable people. Heather finally got permission to manage her husband’s finances but with very strict conditions attached. I could never write a check more than five hundred pounds our daughter just started University and the fees were over a thousand pounds. So I was sort of being asked to ask permission to pay my own daughter’s university fees.

The system was overhauled in 2007 in an attempt to deal with the issues raised by cases like Heather’s but since then there have been so many complaints that the system is being reviewed once again. The Ministry of Justice told us that the changes in 2007 do allow a more personalised approach and give most people who deal with the court greater flexibility over how money is spent whilst ensuring safeguards are in place for vulnerable people.

The only way to avoid this additional heartache at such a difficult time is to appoint somebody as your Lasting Power of Attorney but despite the government’s advice that everybody should do this only 135,000 people in England and Wales registered one in the last two years that is less than 1% of the population, Lawyer Julia Avery is an expert in this field.

Lasting Powers of Attorney is a document you put in place now so that the right kind of decisions the decisions you’ve made for yourself can be made by someone else for you at a time when you can’t do it. To grant  somebody Lasting Power of Attorney you need to download the forms from the office of the public Guardians website fill it in get somebody to witness it and then pay a hundred and twenty pounds to register it or you could just pay a solicitor to do the whole lot for you having Power of Attorney could have saved Heather significant costs and a great deal of distress after nearly three years in a coma her husband Michael died. I cried when Michael died and I cried when I was released from the Court of Protection, that at last I was free I wouldn’t want anybody to go through that if they could avoid it.

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