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Significant fall in lasting power of attorney registrations during pandemic

A Freedom of Information (FoI) request has revealed a significant fall in lasting power of attorney (LPA) registrations throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) confirmed to Canada Life a fall of 26.5% in the volume of LPAs registered in the 2020/21 tax year compared to 2019/20. As a result, the total number of LPAs registered in 2020/21 was 636,628, from 282,883 health and welfare LPAs and 353,745 property and finance LPAs.

In contrast, 2019/20 was the peak year, to date, for LPA registrations, seeing 866,272, consisting of 382,130 health and welfare LPAs and 484,142 property and financial LPAs.

Fall follows years of rising LPA registrations

The fall in LPA registrations followed five years of consistent growth in this area. This growth was driven by the introduction of an online application process in 2015, leading to an 84% rise in LPS registrations over the next five years.

Commenting on the data revealed by the FoI, Andrew Tully of Canada Life said: “Lasting power of attorneys put in place a valuable safety net and can provide significant reassurance at hugely difficult times. LPAs can be registered for health and welfare needs, when you might need someone to make decisions on your behalf around medical needs, daily routines or even decisions on moving into care. LPAs can also be registered for someone to make decisions on your behalf around property and financial needs if you are unable to do so yourself.

“It’s a little surprising to see the number of registrations fall during the pandemic, especially given the huge increase in the number of LPAs registered during the previous five years. This is partly due to the processing changes that needed to be made at the start of the pandemic and the resulting backlog caused.

“LPAs are incredibly powerful legal documents and very easy to put in place while you have the mental capacity to do so. At very little cost they can provide peace of mind, and in the event you find yourself mentally incapacitated, you know your affairs and needs would be looked after by the person you nominate.  We would urge anyone who put off doing this during the lockdowns to dust off the paperwork and finalise it.”

New processes likely in the next 12 months

Canada Life’s FoI request came as the government concluded a 12-week consultation on LPAs, intending to make them “safer, simpler and fit for the future.”

The government has not yet commented on the consultation outcome or finalised any future plans. Still, new processes and a further digitalisation of the process are likely to be among the changes seen in the next 12 months and beyond.

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