Applications to register lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) could take up to 20 weeks to be processed, according to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).

The OPG has struggled to keep up with demand during the Covid-19 pandemic, with staff absences reportedly part of the reason for delays.

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets an individual (the “donor”) appoint one or more people (known as “attorneys”) to help them make decisions or to make decisions on their behalf.

This gives a person more control over what happens to them should they have an accident or an illness and cannot make their own decisions (they “lack mental capacity”).

To make an LPA a person must be 18 or over and have mental capacity (the ability to make their own decisions) when they make the LPA.

Despite the ongoing delays to the application process, having an LPA in place can ensure someone’s wishes are enacted; allowing their affairs to be dealt with without the potential costs and delays of an application to court.

There are two categories of LPA. A Health and Welfare LPA allows the attorney to make decisions about, for example, treatment options and care if the donor is no longer able to make these decisions themselves. A Property and Financial Affairs LPA gives the attorney power to make decisions about, for example, selling a home, paying bills and managing bank accounts.