The Law Society Gazette has recently reported that wait times for the registration of a Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) have doubled in the last 5 years, with applications taking up to 20 weeks to process, according to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
What are LPAs?
LPAs give a family member or friend the legal authority to make medical and financial decisions on their behalf. LPAs are generally prepared for the eventuality that the person making the LPA – the donor – lacks capacity. The Health & Welfare LPA can only be used in this instance, but the Property & Finance LPA can be used immediately if the donor requests, such as if they are on holiday or if an illness or disability means they are unable to deal with their affairs in person. There are different options for appointing attorneys and the donor can put forward their preferences and instructions for how decisions about them should be made.
What is the current situation?
LPA applications must be registered with the OPG. The OPG is currently experiencing delays and has advised to allow up to 20 weeks from receipt of application for it to be processed. In previous years, the average clearance times were 69 days in 2021/22 and 34 days in 2017/18. Earlier this year, the Government announced plans to modernise the system by making the application process available to complete online with a view to make the OPG more efficient. The OPG also advised that they are currently taking steps to reduce wait times by recruiting more staff and moving towards an online system to speed up the process. However, there is still a significant backlog, with the OPG reporting that there were 160,422 unprocessed applications at the end of the 2021/22 financial year. Unfortunately, this may mean that some people will be left in uncertain positions by being unable to support or get assistance from their appointed attorneys. If the donor loses capacity without an LPA already in place, family members or friends will have to apply for deputyship at the Court of Protection instead, which, in court fees alone, typically costs £371 and an additional £494 if the court decides that a hearing is required.
What should I do?
If you are considering making an application for an LPA, it is important that you start the process sooner rather than later. Our Private Client team are available for an initial appointment at our branches in Coulsdon, Purley, Croydon or Warlingham. Call us today on 020 8680 2638 or visit https://www.streetermarshall.com/wills-and-probate to find out more.