Did you know there is a 20+ week wait to register a Lasting Power of Attorney?
It’s very difficult to consider planning the end of your life when you’re fit and healthy, but sadly, we often don’t know what’s around the corner - and if you or a loved one were to suddenly become ill, how would you make sure your bills were paid, and how your other financial matters are dealt with?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) comes in two forms.
There’s a health and welfare LPA, which outlines any end of life or medical care you wish to receive in the event that you are unable to communicate for yourself. The other, perhaps more well-known, is the financial LPA - which nominates an individual (an attorney) to access your bank account for you and pay bills, rent, or mortgage payments on your behalf.
Without an LPA your loved ones cannot act for you.
It is a myth that spouses or any other family members can automatically step in and make any decisions for you, financial or otherwise, without that all-important legal document.
Sadly, many people realise it is too late and are then stuck in the long queues to register an LPA - often while loved ones are incredibly unwell or about to die.
According to an article in The Times last month, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) reported an average 20 week wait to register the 771,822 LPAs in 2022 - a number that has increased 9% since 2021. The pandemic doubled average wait times, from 10 weeks pre-Covid, to 20 weeks in 2022 - and that’s on average, so it can take even longer.
Small errors rejected
It doesn’t help that the OPG’s processes are extremely meticulous - and even the smallest of mistakes can lead to even longer delays for families.
All signatures need to be done in a specific order and dated correctly. While the forms are less complicated than they used to be, if you’re not used to filling them out then you might struggle - and if you make the smallest mistake the OPG will reject the form straight away.
Try and avoid mistakes as much as possible but when errors do occur, cross it out and make sure all parties put their initials beside the mistake clearly.
If you’re dealing with this on top of losing a loved one, it can be extremely difficult.
Don’t forget, LPAs come into play when you, the “donor” lose mental capacity. So, if you’re at the end of your life or are involved in an accident and become ill suddenly, your loved ones cannot step in to help pay bills or issue instructions for your treatment without an LPA - and 20+weeks is a very long time to wait.
Without an LPA you will have to apply to the Court of Protection for an appointment of a ‘deputy’, which can mean even further delays - and heavier cost than signing an LPA. There is a £371 application fee, a £494 fee if your case needs a hearing and a £234 appeal fee to challenge the Court’s decision. On appointment, the deputy will have to pay out of your estate an annual supervision fee of £320.
Indeed, many people find they die waiting for their LPA to be registered.
And it can be simply avoided by registering your LPA as soon as possible. While it may seem counterproductive to have an LPA when you’re fit and healthy, the whole point is that it’s there ready for any unexpected events that might be lurking around the corner. It really is worth saving yourself and your family from heartache.
For more information about LPAs contact the Private Client team at Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.