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Delays over powers of attorney causing stress for families

Delays in the process of setting up lasting powers of attorney (LPA) are causing considerable stress and expense for thousands of families, according to a report in the Times newspaper. An LPA is a legal arrangement that enables you to authorise someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf should you lose mental capacity at some point in the future. LPAs can be extremely valuable in helping your family look after your affairs if you are no longer able to do so yourself.

The Times report suggests more and more people are realising the value of LPAs and this has resulted in a rising number of applications, which in turn has led to considerable delays at the Office of the Public Guardian, which administers the process. Lawyers say applications are currently taking up to 14 weeks and in some cases even longer. The delays don’t matter particularly to people setting up LPAs in advance in case they need them in the future. However, the long application process can cause problems for families caring for a loved one who has lost capacity without having an LPA already in place. In such cases, they may find it difficult to access bank accounts, pay bills or arrange the sale of property or other assets – all of which may be needed to organise finances correctly or fund treatment.

The Office of the Public Guardian says it is doing everything it can to speed up the process. Of course, the best way to avoid potential problems is to set up an LPA in advance. You may never need it but you will have the comfort of knowing that if you ever do, it is already in place and ready for use.

Please contact Hanah Wright if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any matter relating to lasting powers of attorney