Applying for a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is an important decision, and should not be entered into lightly. When you put an LPA in place, you hand over control of your financial and medical life to someone else – known as an attorney – in the event that you are no longer able to make these decisions for yourself.
How does an LPA work?
There are two types of LPA, a Health and Welfare LPA and a Property and Financial Affairs LPA. In most instances, people opt to combine the two, but this may not be right for you.
Both offer so much control over your affairs that it’s vital that you have a lot of trust in the attorney you choose. A nominated attorney will have more control over your life than a spouse, as our article about Kate Garraway and Derek Draper details.
Health and Welfare LPA
A Health and Welfare LPA allows your attorney to look after where you live and with whom, what medical treatment you receive, what you eat and where you spend your time.
Your Health and Welfare attorney will have full access to all your medical records.
Property and Financial Affairs LPA
A Property and Financial Affairs LPA allows your attorney to make decisions about your property and assets, even as far as buying and selling your home and investments.
A Property and Financial Affairs attorney will have full access to your bank accounts, investments, as well as all other assets.
Read more about both types of LPA in our pdf Guide to Lasting Powers of Attorney.
How long does an LPA take to put in place?
Setting up an LPA has always been a slow process, as it’s not something anyone should go into lightly. However, the average length of time it takes for the process to go through has been steadily increasing, causing distress for those who need to make legal decisions for loved ones who can no longer do so themselves.
Prior to the Covid pandemic, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) would take around 10 weeks to register your LPA, but a huge backlog built up due to limits being placed on how many LPAs the OPG could process at one time.
The wait time for Lasting Powers of Attorney applications to be registered and dispatched jumped dramatically in 2022, reaching a peak of over 20 weeks by October.
An improving situation at the OPG
After a frustrating latter half of 2022 for those awaiting approval of their LPAs, there has been a clear sign of improvement. 14% of applications were delayed for nearly six months, but at the start of 2023 this had been decreased to 7.4%.
With only a few outlier applications, the OPG are now working towards a timeline better than that of pre-pandemic levels at 8 weeks by recruiting extra staff and modernising their process.
If you would like someone to be able to make decisions for you in the case of lack of capacity, it’s essential to have an LPA.