The Meaning of an LPA and How the OPG’s New Online Service Benefits Donors and Attorneys

In this guide, we explain the meaning of an LPA, why it is important to set one up and we discuss the new online service provided by the Office of the Public Guardian which makes the process much easier and quicker for both donors (the name given to people who make an LPA to protect their future) and attorneys.
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What does LPA stand for? - Definition

The abbreviation ‘LPA’ stands for Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), which is a legal document that states exactly who is permitted to look after and manage a person’s affairs in the event that the donor (the person who has made the LPA) loses the ability to make decisions for themselves (mental capacity). 

A person can lose their mental capacity due to old age or even after an accident or medical condition/illness, and so in this situation, their appointed power of attorney would be responsible for making decisions regarding the donor’s personal wellbeing (general care) and financial affairs on their behalf (provided both types of LPAs have been set up).

What can cause someone to lose their mental capacity?

While it may not be something we think about, or indeed want to consider, anyone can lose the ability to think for themselves at any point during their lifetime, and there are a number of different reasons that can cause this to happen. 

For example, a lack of mental capacity could occur due to:

  • An illness which can cause confusion, unconsciousness or drowsiness
  • The treatment used for an illness which could also cause the above
  • Dementia
  • A stroke
  • A brain injury
  • A mental health problem
  • A learning disability
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

To make sure you are protected in the event that this should ever happen to you, it is highly advised that you set up an LPA to ensure there is someone you trust available to act on your behalf.

Without an LPA, someone must apply for a Deputy Order via the Court. This is usually an expensive and long process, taking up to 6 months or more to complete, meaning that during this time, no one will be able to make decisions on your behalf and whoever applies for the deputy order is unlikely to be the person you wish to make decisions for you based on your personal preferences and needs.

Notifying people and registering an LPA

After making a lasting power of attorney, you will need to notify the people listed in your LPA. To do this, you must complete and send a people to notify form and they have a 3-week window to address any issues with the Office of Public Guardian (OPG).

Once you have done this, it will need to be registered with the OPG as soon as possible. Provided that there are no legal errors with your LPA, it will take between 8 and 10 weeks for the LPA registration to be complete. Of course, if there are any issues, you will be contacted about this.

As long as you still have mental capacity and are able to make your own decisions, you can register your LPA yourself. Your attorney is also able to register it on your behalf if you wish, but you’ll be informed of this and you are within your rights to object to the registration by completing an objection form on the GOV.UK website.

What is the Office of the Public Guardian?

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is a service provided by the UK government and its role is to help residents of England and Wales with maintaining control of the decisions they make regarding their own health and financial affairs, as well as helping people to make decisions for others who are unable to do so for themselves.

The OPG adheres to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Guardianship Act (Missing Persons) 2017.

New ‘use a lasting power of attorney’ service introduced in 2020

Due to the ever-increasing importance of online services, the Office of the Public Guardian have modernised their LPA services in recent years. In 2019, they launched a ‘track my LPA’ service, and in July 2020, they launched a ‘use a lasting power of attorney service’.

This new online service enables donors (those who write an LPA) and attorneys to give organisations easy and quick access to the details of an LPA - instead of using the traditional method of post.

After registering an LPA, the donor and attorney will be given an ‘activation key’, which will allow them to add an LPA to their online account. After this is done, the donor and/or attorney is able to set up an ‘access code’ to give to organisations who will then be able to view a summary of the LPA online.

Ultimately, this service makes it much easier for attorneys to use an LPA to support the donor if ever the time comes for it to be used.

Sharon Goody from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) - an organisation that has been working with the OPG to create this online service has stated:

“The ‘use a lasting power of attorney service’ has allowed us to design a simple and quick process for our DWP customers and their attorneys , to replace the lengthy and often problematic process of requesting power of attorney documents by post for verification purposes.

The timescale to receive posted documentation is usually around two weeks which is reduced to days using the online service, resulting in the lasting power of attorney supporting the customer at the earliest time possible. It’s a fantastic service for an attorney, for a customer and for DWP.”

Do I need to set up an LPA?

It is not a legal requirement to set up a lasting power of attorney, and whether you need to make one or not is completely dependent on your preferences and how well you want to plan ahead for the unexpected.

Losing your mental capacity is also not something that is guaranteed to happen, of course, but an LPA is there to protect you should it ever happen.

Once it’s made, you’ll always have the peace of mind that should anything happen to you that leaves you unable to make decisions, your preferred person will be there to arrange your personal and financial affairs in line with your wishes and beliefs.

You can get started with your legally-binding LPA today here at Wills.Services - simply tap the button below to register for free. Or, for more information and advice on protecting your future and estate planning, take a look at our useful guides online.

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Lasting Power Of Attorney Services & Fees

Property & Financial LPA

Wills Service - £175

Which? Wills - £221

Co-op Legal Service - £307

+ VAT, INCLUDES OPG filing fee*

Health & Welfare LPA

Wills Service - £175

Which? Wills - £221

Co-op Legal Service - £307

+ VAT, INCLUDES OPG filing fee*

Both in One

Wills Service - £295

Which? Wills - £442

Co-op Legal Service - £539

+ VAT, INCLUDES OPG filing fee*

Article reviewed 16th June 2021