LPA registrations decline during coronavirus pandemic, figures reveal

The number of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) registrations fell sharply during the coronavirus pandemic, a major study has revealed.

The figures, published by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), suggest that later life planning has taken a back seat, despite the risk of accident and illness remaining the same.

An LPA is a legal document that appoints someone known as an attorney – usually a family member or close friend – to make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to do so. There are two types of LPA, one for your finances and one for your health and welfare.

For example, if you have an LPA, if you are diagnosed with dementia your attorney can pay your bills or decide where you should live and what medical treatment you will receive.

Importantly, LPAs should be established and agreed upon ahead of time, as gaining similar rights after an unforeseen accident or illness may require permission from the Courts of Protection, which could take several months.

Despite this, as mentioned the latest research shows that the number of registered LPAs has fallen “significantly” during the pandemic – placing families at risk in the event of unforeseen events.

According to the MoJ, there was a 30 per cent drop in LPAs registered between April 2020 and February 2021, compared to the previous 12 months.

Commenting on the figures, Rachael Griffin, of wealth management firm Quilter, said coronavirus disruption may have led to the fall in registered LPAs.

“Things such as getting a wet signature became problematic. In the instance of applications for Lasting Power of Attorney it took the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) about a month to produce guidance on how to apply in the Covid-19 environment,” she said.

“On top of this, the OPG expressed they were seeing large levels of enquiries and it was taking longer than usual to process applications.”

She added: “For those who were put off by the difficulty of registering an LPA at the beginning of lockdown or haven’t had the chance to have what can be a difficult conversation, you must put the task back at the top of the to-do list. An LPA can only be registered while you have mental capacity – once you’ve lost capacity it’s too late.”

For more help and advice on related matters, please get in touch with Adam Hogg of our Private Client, Wills and Probate Team at adam.hogg@mackrell.com or on +44 (0) 20 7240 0521