My partner’s in a coma. What should I do?

September 10th, 2016

This can create some legal complications if they are unconscious and unable to communicate their wishes for any length of time.

If you and your partner have a joint bank account for example, the Bank may freeze it until you can produce legal documents such as a Lasting Power of Attorney or Deputyship Order.

You will need the same authorisation to manage or discuss your partner’s benefits or tax affairs, as well as any property or investments held in his or her sole name.

Here are some things to do straightaway if you find yourself in this situation:

Did your partner create a Lasting Power of Attorney?

This would pre-authorise you to deal with his or her affairs (read about LPAs). It is worth checking through their papers or you can see if an LPA has been lodged with the Office of the Public Guardian or your partner’s Solicitor.

Please note, you can only create a Lasting Power of Attorney if you have the mental capacity to do so. If there is no LPA and your partner does not have the capacity to set one up, then you can do the following instead…

Apply for a Deputyship order

If there is no LPA you can apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship order instead.

This authorises you to access all of your partners’ assets (including those you jointly hold), and to use those funds for your partner’s benefit. Applying for a Deputyship Order will take time (typically around 16 weeks). It is possible to make an emergency application, but only in extreme circumstances. Consider appointing a Solicitor to help you, as there is a fair amount of paperwork involved.