Lasting powers of attorney may be modernised

Tuesday 20th July 2021

There is talk about modernising the way that Lasting Powers of Attorney are put in place.  This can only be a good thing.

Defining lasting powers of attorney

Lasting Powers of Attorney are legal documents which are put in place to allow someone else to manage your property and financial affairs and/or your health and welfare when you need them to.  They are put in place when people are able to understand the effect of them and they need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian for them to be effective. 

Modernising the registration system

The registration process alone takes 2 – 3 months and any mistakes which are made when signing will be rejected by the OPG and you may need to start again, delaying matters further still.

If the way that Lasting Powers of Attorney are prepared and then registered is modernised, it may be that mistakes would be ironed out straight away and the process speeded up.  There is a statutory waiting period of 21 days once the Attorneys have been notified that they are going to be appointed.  Beyond that, I suspect the remainder of the time is administered by the OPG.

People sometimes do not know that they need a Lasting Power of Attorney until it is too late.  Clients who were trying to sell their house were unable to do so when one of them lost mental capacity.  There was no Lasting Power of Attorney in place and no Deputyship Order.  The Deputyship Order is the Order put in place by the Court of Protection following medical evidence which confirms that the person does not have mental capacity.  We had to move quickly to get the Court of Protection to provide authority for a Deputyship Order and authority to buy and sell another property.  Anyone who has dealt with the Court of Protection will know that urgent applications take months to approve.  Sadly, several purchases of alternative properties were lost along the way but eventually, the Order came through and the Clients were able to move.  All of which could have been saved if Lasting Powers of Attorney had been put in place at the outset.