Why the OPG rejects thousands of LPAs
Posted on 18th June 2020
In the last 12 months (to April 2020) the Office of the Public Guardian OPG) rejected nearly 22,000 Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) applications in England and Wales.
An LPA could be the answer for people who are worried about how their financial affairs could be managed if they were seriously ill, even for a short time, during the coronavirus outbreak.
If you are considering making an LPA, here is some more information about how they work and how you can minimise the chances of your application being rejected at the final stage.
What is an LPA?
An LPA is a legal document that allows you (the donor) to give another person (your attorney) the right act on your behalf. It’s ‘lasting’ because it is an ongoing arrangement that continues after you have lost capacity to make your own decisions. However, if you later regain capacity to make decisions for yourself you can take control again.
Types of LPA
There are two types of LPA:
Property and financial affairs - your attorney can make decisions about your money and property, including managing bank or building society accounts, paying bills, collecting a pension or benefits. If necessary, they can even sell your home on your behalf.
Health and welfare - you can also ask someone to make decisions about your daily routines such as washing, dressing, and eating. They could also make decisions about your medical care, whether you should move into a care home, or receive medical treatment.
In England and Wales an LPA must be registered and approved by OPG.
Why might the OPG reject an LPA?
According to figures provided by the Ministry of Justice about the OPG, the number of LPA registrations has almost doubled in five years.
In the year to April 2020, nearly 875,000 LPAs were registered, however almost 22,000 (2.4%) were rejected.
The highest rate of rejection was for finance and property LPAs, at 2.6% of applications. Whilst fewer health and welfare LPAs were registered, 2.2% of these weren’t accepted by the OPG.
Five mistakes to avoid in your LPA
The role of the Ministry of Justice and OPG is to safeguard people’s interests. They review applications carefully to make sure that there isn’t any confusing, inaccurate or conflicting information that would allow an unreliable attorney to take advantage of a donor.
They might reject an LPA registration for many reasons, but here are some common problems that can be easily avoided.
1. Instructions and preferences
While it is a good idea to take professional advice to make sure your wishes are clear,
you can apply for an LPA without using a qualified professional.
A standard form is used, but problems can arise in the section where you give your
instructions and preferences. Even though the government provides guidance on how to complete the form, people’s instructions can lead to problems for their attorneys.
For example, in one case a grandmother wanted to provide for her grandson’s education, even if she no longer had capacity to make gifts. However, the OPG felt that this would be difficult for the attorney whose responsibility is to look after the donor’s best interests. There was a risk that a conflict could arise between her wish to provide for her grandson’s education and her own needs.
Normally, attorneys aren’t given the power to make gifts unless the Court orders them to do so.
2. The order of signatures
If the dates given for each signature needed on your LPA are in the wrong order, your application will be rejected.
The signatories in the right order are the:
• donor (you)
• certificate provider (who confirms that you have capacity to make your LPAs)
• replacement attorney(s), if any
• person registering the application, which could be the donor or the attorneys.
The certificate provider could be someone who has known you well for over two years or a professional such as a solicitor or doctor.
Your wishes must be clear in the LPA document, so corrections, crossings out and unclear writing could lead to rejections.
4. Incomplete information
If the full names, addresses and dates of birth of the donor and attorneys are not all included, your application will be rejected.
If any part of the form is incomplete, perhaps because you are unsure of any details, this could also lead to rejection.
For example, you may not know whether you want your attorneys to act jointly and separately or just jointly. You might want to take some advice about what this means in practice before making your decision, but you shouldn’t leave this section blank when you submit the application.
While the OPG will not know if you have given the complete and proper spellings for the names of your attorneys, banks will reject a financial LPA if the names do not match your attorneys’ identification documents. That would defeat the whole purpose of creating your LPA.
You can still complete and register your LPAs and follow the social distancing rules.
If you would like any help or advice about LPAs, please get in touch.
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