Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are important legal documents which allow a person (the “donor”) to appoint people they trust (“attorneys”) to make important decisions on their behalf.
LPAs must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before they are legally valid and for the chosen attorneys to be able to use them. This is an important step which has been put in place to safeguard those who make out LPAs.
Once the LPA forms have been completed and signed by both the donor and the attorneys, there is no strict requirement for the LPAs to be registered immediately. Some people decide to keep the documents safe, only to be registered for use if the LPAs are required.
Unfortunately, the OPG has recently published a statement advising that it is currently taking up to 20 weeks to register new applications for LPAs, which is double the time they used to take. They blame a backlog in applications caused by staff being forced to work from home during the Covid-19 pandemic. https://publicguardian.blog.gov.uk/2021/05/10/managing-lpa-registration-delays-an-update-from-opg/
Whilst disappointing, the length of time it is taking for LPAs to be registered means that everyone needs to plan for the future, have LPAs drawn up and register them before they are urgently needed. Further, we always recommend that applications to register LPAs are submitted to the OPG as soon as the documents have been completed. Waiting until the powers are needed before applying for registration has the potential to cause severe inconvenience and stress for both donors and their attorneys.
If the donor has lost mental capacity after completing but before registering an LPA for Health and Care decisions, time sensitive issues involving urgent medical decisions, as well as decisions relating to the donor’s day to day care needs will be unable to be made by the attorneys. These decisions will instead be made collectively by interested parties in a best interests meeting, where potentially the wishes of the donor will not be followed.
Similarly, in the case of LPAs for Financial decisions, 20 weeks is a long time for a donor’s affairs to stagnate. The chosen attorneys will not be able to pay bills, go to the bank to draw money or pension payments, or indeed conduct any financial business on the donor’s behalf, until the registration process is complete. This applies equally whether the donor has lost mental capacity, or retains capacity but is housebound.
In cases where our clients need LPAs putting in place as soon as possible, we pride ourselves on drawing up the necessary papers quickly and assisting our clients and their attorneys with the signing process as efficiently as we can. This means that although the registration process is currently extremely lengthy, our clients are not experiencing any additional delays from our team.
For further information and assistance relating to making and registering LPAs, please contact our team today.