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22nd June 2014

Power of Attorney - Avoid current long Court delays

A Lasting Power of Attorney (“ LPA”) is a document whereby you can choose now someone to help you in the future to deal with finances or medical care.

Most of us will need help in later life and this avoids the Court making the decisions. An LPA is therefore a vital form of insurance. However, it can only be used after it has gone through a registration process at the Office of the Public Guardian (“OPG”). More information on LPA's can be found here.

Registration, by law, takes a minimum of 6 weeks (causing a delay just when the person is most in need of help e.g. after a stroke) and so postponing registration until the LPA is needed is never advised. However, the delays can be even longer. For years there have been problems with delays of up to 4 months. Recently that improved, but now the OPG is taking an average of 14 weeks to process applications, and delays of 16 weeks are not unusual. For some reason newer applications are being processed before some which have been in the queue for months. The OPG sent out a circular in April stating that registrations are up 30 per cent on this time last year, causing the delays. A cynic might speculate that the reason new applications are being prioritised over those already past the target date is connected to how the OPG service targets are measured…..

Whatever the reason for the delay, if you have an unregistered LPA, it would be wise to start the registration process now. Your attorney will find it very frustrating to be unable to use your LPA for 4 months if you have a stroke, or serious accident, and need someone to pay your bills. Similarly if you haven’t yet made your LPA: now is the time to “get round to it” – and to register it.

If you would like to discuss the preparation of LPAs or have any general questions in relation to LPAs, please contact Antonia Cooper on 01604 463314 or antoniacooper@hewitsons.com

For more information regarding our estate planning services click here.

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