Anyone who wishes to use a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to help administer the financial affairs of the person who signed an LPA (the Donor), has to register it at the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) first. This requirement was introduced in October 2007.
The OPG is no stranger to controversy in its existing form or when it was the Public Guardianship Office or the Court of Protection. Delays, inaccuracies and lost documentation have been a constant frustration to those having to deal with them, but the current delays are now causing real difficulties for the public and practitioners alike. In a statement issued recently by the Public Guardian, he admitted that the registration period had stretched to 14 weeks after the date of the application. We are finding that in addition, there are delays in sending out registered documents. This means that an Attorney is not able to help a Donor who needs assistance in looking after their finances during this period.
The LPA was introduced in 2007 to help to reduce potential fraudulent activity under the old Enduring Powers of Attorney, and to give Donors a greater degree of choice and flexibility in what they are asking their Attorneys to do. There has been considerable publicity in the past few months about LPAs and the cost of not having one should mental capacity be lost. This has resulted in a large number of applications for registration to the OPG.
We have found that there are several ways in which the affects of the delays can be reduced:
- 1. Ensure that the paperwork that is sent to the OPG is entirely accurate and complete. If the OPG have to raise queries, there will inevitably be delays and increase the possibility of loss of documentation at the OPG.
- 2. Copy everything that is sent - if they are lost, the OPG may be persuaded to accept copies.
- 3. All documents are scanned when they arrive at the OPG. The LPA and application for registration should be loosely fastened together so that they are not damaged in the scanning process.
- 4. In addition to the LPA, consider the completion of a General Power of Attorney by the Donor, to cover the period between the signature of the LPA and its registration. This document is relatively straight forward but care should be taken in its drafting. It gives very wide powers to the Attorney and so the Donor needs to be aware of the dangers that this could bring. It will fail on the future mental incapacity of the Donor - hence the need for an LPA.
All the LPA forms can be downloaded from the OPG website. We would suggest that advice is taken before they are completed and registered, as the current delays can be made much worse by incomplete documents. If help is needed, please call the Private Client team on 0113 2223234.
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