The number of annual 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 allows someone – usually a family member or close friend – to make financial and healthcare decisions on your behalf if you’re no longer able to do so.
For example, someone diagnosed with dementia can ask their Lasting Power of Attorney to pay their bills for them or decide where they should live and what medical care they 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, which could take several months.
Despite this, the latest research shows that the number of registered annual 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 help and advice with related matters, please get in touch with our expert later life planning team today.
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