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Football hero’s tale provides a legal lesson for many

Bryony Hill has published 'My Gentleman Jim, a touching account of her life with husband and footballing legend Jimmy Hill SUS-151222-174428001
Bryony Hill has published 'My Gentleman Jim, a touching account of her life with husband and footballing legend Jimmy Hill SUS-151222-174428001

For those of us who love football the passing of Jimmy Hill just before Christmas will have been a poignant occasion.

He was a memory of our younger days presenting Match of The Day for many years and was always a well-known and mimicked figure with his beard and pointed chin.

A strong figure, he was a spokesman who fought against minimum wages for footballers and he was widely regarded as being one of the leading figures in football in the second half of the 20th century.

However, behind this admirable life there were family problems, which caused great difficulty for his loved ones – and, as law experts, we feel it is only right to highlight them to stop others falling into the same trap.

Mr Hill was married three times and his case shows how many people who are re-married fail to ensure the best legal provisions are in place to help with their possible situations in later life.

In his last few years he suffered from Alzheimer’s and lived out those last days in a nursing home where he needed constant care.

Of course this situation caused great problems for his current wife, as well as his five children from two previous marriages.

In 2013 his children Jamie and Joanna raised awareness of their father’s illness in the media to highlight the difficulties when a parent – with a large extended family – becomes too ill to make their own decisions.

Jimmy Hill had given joint powers of attorney to his last wife and their solicitor in 2005, when he was still in good health and it is thought that Hill stated at that time that he did not wish one of his children to be the second attorney.

However, sadly, none of his children has any say in his future affairs or his treatment.

The children only discovered the legal document’s existence later when Hill was assessed too ill to look after himself. It was only then that the law required that his offspring be informed that powers of attorney had been granted to Mrs Hill and the couple’s solicitor.

We urge elderly parents to talk to their children so that they are included in uncomfortable discussions about who has powers of attorney as, in his last days, his children had no rights over his treatment and care – which obviously caused them great distress.

The fact is children whose parents have complicated family situations should be made aware that they will be unable to influence their affairs if they register a power of attorney.

We at Bowsers believe children should have this conversation with parents, before poor health sets in, about whom they want to be in charge of their lives and care.

The sad case of football pioneer Jimmy Hill affects many other families and it will become a more common problem unless the lessons are learnt.

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