Once a lasting power of attorney (LPA) has been signed by all of the parties, the process does not stop there, the LPA still needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before your attorney(s) (the person or people you appoint to act under your LPA(s)) have any authority to act on your behalf.
The OPG advised, as of the 1 April 2023, that it is taking up to 20 weeks from submission of the application to register an LPA.
Sometimes historically LPAs were not registered as soon as they were created, rather they would be prepared and stored until needed and then the donor (the person making the LPA) or the attorneys would then arrange to register it.
One reason for this practice was for the client to save money and not have to pay the registration fee if the LPA may not be needed at all in the future.
Another was that the registration process was a little quicker taking only up to 8 - 10 weeks, although this still often caused issues when a donor had lost capacity suddenly and the attorneys needed to take control of their finances, or make decisions about their health.
In addition, the LPA's predecessor the enduring power of attorney (EPA) was not registered with the OPG until the donor had lost or was losing mental capacity. However, with LPAs the act of registration does not take away the donor's ability to make their own decisions about their finances and/or health.
There are several benefits of registering your LPA as soon as it has been created.
One is to ensure that it has been executed correctly and no amendments are required to ensure the LPA meets all of the OPGs requirements, and there is no further delay to the registration of the LPA at a time when the donor may be vulnerable due to capacity issues.
Once a property & financial LPA has been registered it can be used by your attorneys straight away (unless you include a restriction to the contrary). This allows your attorneys to act on your behalf whilst you have mental capacity (but only with your consent), which can be necessary if, for example, you needed some assistance with you finances as you were in hospital or unwell at home for an extended period of time.
A health & welfare LPA could be needed immediately in the event of a medical emergency to allow your attorney(s) to make decisions on your behalf. In this case your attorneys would not have the time to wait for the document to be registered and as such would not be authorised to make decisions on your behalf. Furthermore your attorneys may not have time to obtain the LPA/certified copy to show that they have the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. It is also important that you notify your GP and any other medical professionals, in charge of your care, of your health & welfare LPA so that they are aware of its existence in the event of a medical emergency where you are unable to make your own decisions about your health and welfare.
We therefore recommend LPAs are registered as part of the preparation process and treat them like an insurance policy that you hope you never have to use. However, if you prepared your LPA some time ago and are unsure if it is registered, you can easily check this by looking at the bottom of each page of the LPA, where it will have a perforated stamp that says "validated", and there will be another stamp on the front page showing the date that the OPG registered the LPA.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.