Call for urgent action over power of attorney delays

This is Money has warned that solicitors are calling for urgent action to deal with the delay in grants of power of attorney, saying that clients are dying while awaiting this vital legal document.

Solicitors have said that it can take up to six months to register applications because of the backlog at the Office for the Public Guardian (OPG). In a letter, they have said that civil servants are making “unacceptable mistakes”, such as returning documents with ripped paperwork or the pages missing.

Previously, it took ten weeks to register for power of attorney, which gives family members or friends the legal authority to make financial or medical decisions on your behalf. However, there is now a backlog of up to 200,000 applications.

Signed letter from solicitors

Solicitors, estate planners and financial advisors signed the letter to the OPG. Katy Kirkland from the BEST Foundation, a non-profit organisation for estate professionals, said that no action had been taken so far to improve the problems.

A spokesperson from the OPG said it had recruited more staff and teams to work around the clock to reduce delays and that the number of lasting power of attorneys registered each month was now back to the pre-pandemic levels.

David Lockwood, Finders International’s senior business development manager, whose area of expertise include deputyship in the public sector, said: “It is crucial that the power of attorney is granted as quickly as possible when dealing with vulnerable people, so that the decisions that are in their best interests can be made. It is deeply concerning that people are dying while applications churn through the system and hopefully action will be taken to remedy this.”


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