Lasting Power of Attorney applications drop 30% during pandemic

Jenna Brown reports

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) registrations fell “significantly” during the pandemic as lockdown measures made the process more onerous, according to official figures.

A freedom of information request to the Ministry of Justice, made by Quilter, showed a 30% dip in LPAs registered between April last year and February this year.

The advice and wealth management business said while numbers had improved, they had still not recovered to their pre-pandemic levels. With February this year 25% below February 2020.

LPA registered LPA registered

Apr-19

67,279

Apr-20

19,829

May-19

67,767

May-20

32,253

Jun-19

70,153

Jun-20

47,793

Jul-19

82,277

Jul-20

52,642

Aug-19

72,157

Aug-20

47,962

Sep-19

73,359

Sep-20

62,352

Oct-19

75,794

Oct-20

65,666

Nov-19

69,333

Nov-20

59,968

Dec-19

63,316

Dec-20

57,612

Jan-20

80,781

Jan-21

61,047

Feb-20

82,373

Feb-21

62,014

804,589

 

569,138

Quilter tax and financial planning expert Rachael Griffin said it had taken weeks for official guidance on the process to come out: “At the beginning of the pandemic everyone rushed to figure out how they could continue to offer services that previously required physical contact. Things such as getting a wet signature became problematic. In the instance of applications for LPA 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 added: “On top of this, the OPG expressed they were seeing large levels of enquiries and it was taking longer than usual to process applications. It is no wonder we saw the year-on-year level of registrations drop by 70.5% for the month of April alone.

“While numbers still haven’t returned to their previous levels, they are getting closer and it is encouraging to see that people are getting the much-appreciated peace of mind that having an LPA entails.”

Griffin urged people who were initially put off to apply now: “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 is too late.”