Lasting Powers Of Attorney Registration Delays – How To Handle Them?

The delays announced by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) to the registration of lasting powers of attorney (LPA) of up to 20 weeks is likely to be the cause of frustration for clients and practitioners alike.

For many private client practitioners, this will only add to the mounting pressure caused throughout the Covid-19 pandemic caused by, but not limited to, restrictions in seeing clients, lockdowns, periods of self-isolation, home-schooling and delays at the probate registry. So, what can be done to handle the delay?

First and foremost, I recommend honesty with clients; we should be ensuring our terms of business include realistic timescales and state known delays. It goes without saying that, for matters started before the announcement but will inevitably be affected, we ought to update clients as soon as possible. Hopefully, the approach of ‘don’t shoot the messenger’ will work and clients will realise that these delays are not caused by us.

Another top tip is to ensure that you are not, of course, the source of any additional delay. This may sound obvious but a client who has had to wait weeks for documentation to be drafted isn’t going to take kindly to an update that there will be further delays once the LPA is submitted for registration.

It is ever more important to ensure that the LPA documentation is free of errors. Clearly, any mistakes are going to hold up the registration process further and cause increased annoyance to clients and their chosen attorneys/replacement attorneys if the LPAs has to be re-signed. At our firm, we have a peer review process in place for all such documents. We acknowledge that even the most knowledgeable and experienced amongst us are only human and that mistakes happen, but hopefully a second pair of eyes can reduce the scope for error.

Finally, if you have waited in excess of the period stated of 20 weeks for registration of the LPAs, then contact the OPG. Any prior contact to this will probably result in the response that it is taking up to 20 weeks to register them and quite frankly, we are all too busy to spend lengths of time on hold just to be told that!

 

Charlotte Crawford is a senior associate solicitor and team leader of the private client team at Hugh Jones Solicitors

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