Canada Life reveals that Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) registrations fell by 26.5% in 2020-21 as lockdown measures are believed to have made the paper-based process outdated.
Following a freedom of information request submitted by the insurance solutions provider, Canada Life, to the Ministry of Justice, a significant fall in LPAs between 6 April 2020 and 5 April 2021 has been revealed.
During 2020-21, the total number of LPA registrations totalled just over 635,000 which was split between 282,883 health and welfare and 353,745 property and finance LPAs. But in the same 2019-20 period the total number of LPA registrations stood at a record high of 866,272, split between 382,130 health and welfare and 484,142 property and financial registrations.
However during the longer-term five-year period between 2015/16 and 2019/20, figures show an increase of 84% in LPA registrations which is thought to be the result of the introduction of an online application process in 2015, and a follow-up awareness campaign.
Canada Life has attributed the recent decline in registrations to “processing changes that needed to be made at the start of the pandemic and the resulting backlog caused“.
Canada Life Technical Director, Andrew Tully, commented:
“Lasting power of attorneys put in place a valuable safety net and can provide significant reassurance at hugely difficult times. LPAs can be registered for health and welfare needs, when you might need someone to make decisions on your behalf around medical needs, daily routines or even decisions on moving into care. LPAs can also be registered for someone to make decisions on your behalf around property and financial needs if you are unable to do so yourself.”
In July, the Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) held a 12-week consultation for feedback on proposals to simplify and modernize the LPA application process.
The consultation examined how technology can be used to reform the process of witnessing, improving access, and speeding up the service, as well as proposing the widening of legal powers to check identities and stop or delay any registrations that raise concern. In addition, it looked at making the process for objecting to the registration of an LPA simpler to help stop potentially abusive LPAs.
Tully also commented on the importance of LPAs, particularly in the wake of a global pandemic:
“LPAs are incredibly powerful legal documents and very easy to put in place while you have the mental capacity to do so. At very little cost they can provide peace of mind, and in the event you find yourself mentally incapacitated, you know your affairs and needs would be looked after by the person you nominate. We would urge anyone who put off doing this during the lockdowns to dust off the paperwork and finalise it.”