How long does it take to set up an LPA?
Lasting Powers of Attorney are left until the last minute more than any other service. Enquiries often consist of "my relative is unwell and has dementia, we've been told we need an LPA to get money out the bank for them". Typically most people only find out about the existence of LPAs when they actually need them immediately. Therefore it is really important that people find out before the panic sets in, just how long this process takes.
Essentially there are two separate stages; the pre-registration stage and the registration stage.
The first stage is the part where I can control to an extent, this generally takes somewhere between four to five weeks. This process involves several things, starting with an initial client meeting to take their instructions. Following on a draft is produced and passed to the client so they check through it and confirm everything is to their satisfaction. Next is the signing part whereby everyone named in the document must sign and have their signature witnessed. At that point I can then produce the registration documents which also need signing by either the donor or where relevant, one of the attorneys. If everyone required in this stage is focussed, its been possible to complete it in under a week. In reality however it takes four to five weeks because people are busy, checking the drafts might not be possible at short notice for the client. Where the documents need sending to the Attorneys for signing, they often take a little time to return the forms due to having busy lives themselves.
The second stage begins with the documents being sent off to the Office of the Public Guardian for registration. About four weeks later the Office of the Public Guardian will write to all the parties involved to inform them that; they've received the paperwork, are processing it and of the estimated date of registration (usually a further four weeks from that point). In addition they advise to allow for 1-2 weeks to go through the postal system sin all you are looking at around nine to ten weeks. Therefore adding the two stages together you would be expecting to wait around three to four months before you are in a position to use the documents.
In an ideal world LPAs will be set up at a time where there is no need for panic meaning it really doesn't matter that it might take four months to be completed. If you are being prudent and simply planning ahead, the registration process simply runs in the background and is almost forgotten about. On the other hand if you are reacting to a loved one becoming unwell but manage to apply for the LPA whilst they still have capacity, then the worst case scenario is waiting for registration to complete. Far worse are those who haven't set up LPAs and have unfortunately lost capacity. Their loved ones will be required to apply to the court of protection if they are to have any hope of accessing their affairs. This process is going to take at least twice as long (on average six to nine months) which is bad enough before without even considering this person will already have many issues that need addressing immediately before the application to the court has even began.