Kate Garraway’s harrowing story highlights vital legal issue

Local solicitor Rachel Roche believes Kate Garraway’s harrowing story of her husband’s battle with COVID-19 has highlighted a significant legal problem for families dealing with serious illness.

Television personality Garraway has been chronicling the life-threatening problems her husband Derek Draper has been dealing with since being taken ill with COVID-19 and hospitalised.  With her husband incapacitated, Kate was unable to access family funds to manage his care, refinance their mortgage or have the right to see his medical records.

This was due to the fact a Lasting Power of Attorney was not in place and research carried out by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) shows that 65% of people in the UK incorrectly believe their next of kin will be able to make medical and care decisions if they are no longer able.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, it is estimated that only 22% of the population has the required legal documentation in place to deal with the kind of scenario facing Kate and her family.

York based Rachel Roche, founder of Roche Legal, said: “Kate Garraway’s heart-breaking story of her husband Derek’s year-long battle with Covid has been made even more complicated by the lack of legal protection she and Derek had in place. Kate was unable to access funds to manage her husband’s care or refinance her mortgage. She didn’t even have the legal right to see his medical notes, owing to data protection.

“Research shows that 65% of us think our next-of-kin will make medical and care decisions for us but in reality, this isn’t the case unless a Lasting Power of Attorney is in place. Whilst there’s been a rise in the number of enquiries made about Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPAs) during the pandemic, only 22% of people in the UK actually have one.

“Our experience is that we are currently seeing more people who have relatives who are really vulnerable or who have illnesses and they simply are unaware that LPAs exist and that they need anything legal to help them make decisions about their money or healthcare.

“One of our clients suggested a national campaign was needed to raise awareness as he didn’t realise these documents needed to be in place until his mother was taken ill.”

“To avoid this difficult kind of legal situation it’s important to use a specialist lawyer who is experienced in this area of the law, and is trained to support people making these crucial, complex and difficult decisions. According to Which? 22,000 LPAs are rejected every year so it’s essential that you get your legal documents right.”

Note to editors:

Rachel is available for interview and can be contacted on 01904 866139 or through Chris Jones Media on 07774 772820/ 07738 005133.