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By Nicolae Trofin

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Important Office of The Public Guardian Update July 2021

In usual times, the timescale for registration of LPAs with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is around 12 weeks however during the Coronavirus pandemic, the OPG have experienced delays which has seen registration times vary. Last week the OPG announced that they are currently experiencing delays and the time it takes to register LPAs has now increased to 20 weeks.

This timescale is out of our control, and requests to register LPAs urgently are usually only considered by the OPG in exceptional circumstances, for example if a donor is terminally ill or if a house sale is being held up by reason of the LPA not being registered. In the meantime, whilst waiting for an LPA to be registered, there are a few short-term options that could be considered to help clients: -

1) Write down their wishes – Clients could write down their wishes and feelings about their future health and welfare or property and financial affairs. Encourage them to talk to close friends and family about their wishes and let them know where the written document is kept. This is not legally binding; however, it lets those nearest to them know what they want and allows anyone needing to make decisions on their behalf to be made aware of their wishes and take them into account.

2) Sign a Third-Party Mandate - A ‘third-party mandate’ allows a client to authorise someone else to carry out bank transactions for them. They will need to speak to their bank or building society for more details.

3) Sign a General Power of Attorney – A general power of attorney authorises someone to manage your financial affairs or do certain things on your behalf, however it can only be used while the client has the mental capacity to tell the person what they want them to do on their behalf so doesn’t extend as far as a Lasting Power of Attorney which continues after the loss of mental capacity.

4) Make an Advance Decision - An advance decision is a decision a client can make to refuse a specific type of treatment at some time in the future. It lets family, carers and health professionals know their wishes about refusing treatment if they’re unable to make or communicate those decisions themselves. As long as it meets certain requirements, an advance decision is a legally binding document.

5) Make an Advance Statement – An advance statement sets out preferences, wishes, beliefs and values regarding future care. The aim is to provide a guide to anyone who might have to make decisions in that person’s best interests if they have lost the capacity to make decisions or to communicate them. An advance statement is not legally binding so is only guidance.

6) Make an Advance Care Plan – A client can make an advance care plan with their healthcare team where appropriate. It records their treatment and care wishes. An advance care plan is not legally binding, however it lets the people involved in a person’s care know what’s important to them. Ultimately, if a client loses mental capacity and does not have a registered LPA in place, the law (Mental Capacity Act 2005) says that the people looking after them must still: • make decisions that are in their best interests • try to find out their past and present wishes, views, beliefs and values • consider the views of anyone else who is interested in their welfare, for example family and close friends If someone, such as a family member or close friend, needs specific authority to make decisions for a client who does not have a valid LPA in place, they can apply to the Court of Protection to become their ‘deputy’, however it normally takes several months for the court to grant a Deputyship Order and it is a costly process so an LPA is always a better option.

This message was added on Wednesday 28th July 2021

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