“You must get power of attorney so everything is in your hands medically and financially. I cannot stress how important it is.” These are 65-year-old Margaret Quigley’s words of advice following her own experience.
In December 2013 Margaret's husband Dennis suffered the first of a series of strokes, the effects of which have left him with a drastically reduced capacity to make decisions concerning his own welfare.
Like many in the couple’s position, the stroke was unexpected, although it was precipitated by tragic and traumatic events; Dennis had been attending the trial of the man who killed his daughter’s brother-in-law when, traumatised by the details discussed in the court room, he suffered his first stroke and lost control of his right hand.
Within months the retired Scottish Water engineer had suffered a further two strokes and soon it became clear to his wife of forty years that his physical and mental capacity were seriously diminished.
However, she did not yet have power of attorney, which meant the couple were placed in the distressing position of knowing that social services could take control of all their most important medical and financial decisions.
Margaret says she was absolutely distraught and that she was struggling to cope with what had happened to her husband let alone the thought that she could lose control of Dennis's life.
“I cried my eyes out for about half an hour and I still get upset thinking about it now but I decided I wasn’t going to allow that to happen because I couldn’t let a complete stranger take control of everything.
Margaret feared that Dennis could have been put in a home where all his savings would have been used up to pay the bills.
Fortunately though, with the help of her GP and the specialist power of attorney solicitors at Thompsons, Margaret has been able to ensure that she is the one making the important decisions regarding her husband’s welfare.
Tim Weir, Head of Private Client services at Thompsons Solicitors, knows better than most just how critical Margaret’s good sense has proved to be. He said, “One of the most important things you can do is create a will and a power of attorney. Without these documents, no-one has the right to act on your behalf. It means your family or friends may have to go through a very expensive and lengthy court process to get permission to make decisions for you.”