Delays affecting the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) application process are well-documented. Though there has been a slight reduction in waiting times in previous months, timelines remain far from ideal.
How, therefore, can practitioners best advise their clients in the meantime? Here are some “top tips” from two commentators well-acquainted with the process.
Sophie Newman, associate in the private wealth team at Cripps
“As organisations become increasingly aware of the need to see an LPA before allowing third-party access to accounts, we recommend LPAs are registered in advance to ensure they can be used as soon as they are needed,” said Newman.
This, she adds, is all the more important given the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) does not have a fast-track process.
On how best to approach an application, Newman said that while the OPG suggest digital applications may be registered more quickly than paper ones, this is something her firm is “yet to see in practice”, especially given the OPG still require online applications be printed, signed, and sent by post.
“The OPG does not allow chaser calls until the estimated 20-week registration time has passed. If calling before then, they won’t usually provide an update,” said the Cripps associate, adding that in the interim, should the donor still have mental capacity, the following may be possible:
- A one-off verbal authority: Some organisations may accept verbal authority for a one-off account request.
- Third-party bank mandate: This confirms to the bank that they are able to accept instructions from a third party on behalf of the account holder.
- Forms of authority: Similar to the above, used by other organisations such as utilities.
- General Powers of Attorney: These can be used to appoint someone to manage property and financial affairs. The document must contain specific wording and be in the form of a deed. Unlike LPAs, this doesn’t need to be registered.
Newman noted that all of the above would automatically be revoked if the donor lost mental capacity, and that if the donor has already lost mental capacity, nothing further that can be done until the LPAs are registered.
Rebecca Carey, a solicitor in the Trusts & Estates team at Ashfords LLP
Ensuring that Lasting Powers of Attorney have been completed correctly before submitting them to the OPG for registration will assist in reducing the registration period,” said Carey, continuing:
“Common mistakes include failing to insert the full names, addresses, and dates of birth for the donor and the attorneys, and failing to ensure all signatures have been witnessed correctly.
Another common mistake relates to the order in which the document is signed and it is therefore important to refer to the OPG’s instructions in this regard.”
Carey added that, if a mistake is identified prior to sending the LPA to the OPG, there is in fact no need to re-print the document and arrange for it to be resigned:
“[Mistakes] can be rectified by correcting the error and arranging for the person who made the error to insert their initials next to it to confirm that it has been corrected.”
Carey added that, in cases where a mistake has been made, providing the donor’s email address in the LPA will allow the OPG to make contact more readily via email with regard to resolving any issues with the document.