Estate planning

Professional deputies are managing LPAs ‘diligently’, review finds

A new Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) review has revealed that England and Wales professionals deputies are managing LPAs diligently and there is no evidence they are delaying registration of their clients’ LPAs, according to STEP.

The SRA found that registration delays are usually due to either clients taking time to consider next steps or the known problems with the Office of the Public Guardian in England and Wales’ (OPG’s) registration process, according to reports.

The reason for the review was because both the OPG and the Court of Protection (COP) had “raised concerns about the capacity of firms to both write and manage LPAs and to undertake deputyship roles”.

The SRA also stated that COVID-19 and increasing information and support around LPAs and deputyships has contributed to demand for these services – beginning an investigation to examine the ability of firms who provide such services to handle increasing numbers of LPAs and deputyships, it has been reported.

The SRA was “generally satisfied” with the quality of service provided by firms despite stating that in some areas they could help clients make more informed decisions about costs and services.

The review stated:

“Using entities created and controlled by law firms can help avoid the ongoing problems around attorneys dying or becoming unable or unwilling to act. This provides the security of a named corporate attorney but allows the associated individuals to change.”

The SRA also stated that safeguarding clients was considered an important issue – it was “broadly reassured” by each firm’s practical approach to preventing abuse, but thought more could be done to document the safeguarding activities undertaken, as reported by STEP.

Holly Mieville-Hawkins TEP, Deputy Chair of STEP’s Mental Capacity Special Interest Group, said:

“We are pleased that [the SRA] is taking seriously the role of the legal profession in advising older and vulnerable clients and managing and protecting their assets. It is heartening to see that the SRA has found that the service provided by those working in this area is thorough and thoughtful and that it recognises that STEP members receive specialist training in this practice area, which is growing each year.”

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