A recent article in the Sunday Times ‘Power of attorney delays ruined my Mum’s final days’ (17th June 2023) laid out the reality of failing to have power of attorney in place.
The risk, of course, is that administration becomes very difficult at a point when the family is in a tough place emotionally.
Last year, 771,822 power of attorneys were registered, up 9 per cent from 2021. But waiting times are now growing.
Solicitors said that before the pandemic it took about ten weeks to register a power of attorney — now it takes an average of 20 weeks as the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) works through the Covid backlog. It gets about 88,000 applications a month.
In the event of a sudden deterioration in a person’s health, 20 weeks is a very long time.
If you do not have power of attorney, you will need to go to the Court of Protection, which will decide whether to legally appoint someone to make decisions on behalf of someone who is unable to.
This can be expensive. 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. If you are appointed by the court, you will have to pay an annual supervision fee of up to £320.
Then there’s the fact that the Court of Protection also has a backlog of applications. All in all, it’s a problematic situation that can be navigated with some forward planning.
Ian Brookes is a Chartered Financial Planner in Wren Sterling’s Oxford office and a member of the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA), which means he specialises in advising clients in the later stages of life.
He says he’s fortunate in a way because many of his clients already have LPAs in place, so he’s only heard of the delays experienced by others, but he says it’s vital for families to get themselves organised:
“My advice to all clients that I meet without an LPA, who have the capacity to make one, is that arranging them is the first step they should take following the factfinding meeting, regardless of what stage of life they are at.
“Without an LPA (for Property and Financial matters, but both types ideally) any financial planning advice I give can be severely undermined in the future by not having it and the client subsequently loses capacity before one can be arranged.”
If you do not have Power of Attorney in place, please speak to your financial planner or you can get a form from gov.uk and post it to the Office of the Public Guardian for approval. However, the form has to be filled out correctly, and in a certain order, so you should consult a professional.