14 Apr
14Apr

The Office Of Public Guardian (OPG) estimates that approximately over 10,000 LPAs per month are completed incorrectly. Thousands more were found to have errors when they were attempted to be used. 

Many of these errors occur because people try to save money by doing it themselves or using cheap online forms as guides. Some even pay a premium to ask a solicitor to help, who then does not oversee or validate the signing. 

1. Missing and mixing pages  

When people make more than one LPA application – for example, if they take out a health and welfare LPA and property and finance LPA together or make an application alongside a partner – sometimes they unintentionally mix up the pages on the different forms. It’s essential to take the time to review your applications to check the numbering and make sure you have the correct pages of the forms before you send them to OPG. If submitting multiple LPA applications, Fern Wills and LPAs always keep each in a separate plastic wallet. The LPAs, when returned, will be the same pages. They can be bound at this stage, though using clips and never mixing the pages is recommended.

2. Signing the application in the wrong order 

Many LPA applications OPG receive are signed in the wrong order. If you’ve used continuation sheets (part of sections 1 - 9), they need to be signed and dated at the same time. Do not future date (dating the signature incorrectly so the signatures appear in the correct order); the donor needs to capture their wishes first and appoint attorneys, then the certificate provider needs to certify that the donor can make the decision to create the LPA, and the attorney must agree to act. The applicant, either donor or attorney, signs section 15 at the end.

3. Family members as certificate providers 

Ensure that those signing as certificate providers have distinctly separate relationships from donors, attorneys, and replacement attorneys. For example, a certificate provider cannot be the son or daughter of anyone involved, even if the name is different. OPG can conduct checks to determine a possible relative. It’s also vital that full names are used. If they require a new section 10, it must be the same person as before.

4. Not signing in the appropriate boxes 

In many applications, people have signed the sticky labels or notes that have been provided for guidance rather than in the signature box itself. Some cut-price providers fail to provide enough guidance to ensure that their clients sign the documents themselves and within the appropriate boxes. 

5. Pencil & Ink 

If you use a pencil, OPG can’t tell how (or whether) an LPA application has been amended or who did it. LPA applications with a pencil will not be registered. Black ink is preferred because it is easier to read by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) scanners used to read the documents, though blue ink is accepted if it is legible.

6. Bound applications & Staples

Once OPG receives an LPA application, it scans the pages individually for its records. If an application is bound, it needs to be removed. If it can’t, it cannot provide clear, readable copies for the scanning system. Binding can be done once the application is returned. Don’t use staples; they can damage the document when OPG removes them to scan the pages.

7. Being unclear in the life-sustaining treatment section 

This isn’t just a tick box on the health and welfare form. You need to specify what decisions your attorney can make; if this isn’t clear or has contradictory instructions, they cannot process the application. The correct box must be ticked, that it’s signed on or before section 9 and that it is filled in correctly

8. Unlawful instructions 

There are many legal cases on what is an unlawful instruction; the layperson (DIY or cheap form) is unlikely to know all these; therefore, you are advised to seek legal advice on any instructions you want to include in your LPA to ensure it is lawful. If an instruction is believed to be unlawful, the OPG have a statutory duty to seek guidance from the Court of Protection. This won’t always invalidate your LPA but will slow the registration process.

9. Correction Fluid  & Photocopies 

If you use correction fluid (Tippex), OPG can’t tell how (or whether) an LPA application has been amended or who did it. LPA applications with these amends will not be registered. Photocopies will not be accepted unless they are legally certified.

10. Signing the form in the wrong order

You’ll be told on the form who has to sign it first and then who next. The donor must sign the LPAs first, then the certificate provider, then the attorneys, and after that, the person registering the LPA must sign again (either the attorney or the donor).

11. Missing information

Your LPA will not be approved if it lacks information, including the date, and it will not be registered if missing signatures or details make it legally invalid. 

12. Incorrect witnesses

The document has to be signed and witnessed, but parties often use witnesses who aren't allowed to be used. For example, an attorney can't witness a donor's signature because there is a conflict of interest in doing so. 

13. Not providing full names, addresses and date of birth

You’ll need to give your full name, including your middle name, and not just your initial and surname. You’ll also have to use complete addresses and dates of birth. The signature(s) must be witnessed. The witness(es) must write their full name and address and sign it.

14. Contradicting requests

A standard error is in appointment types – for example, appointing joint and several attorneys incorrectly. The donor might appoint attorneys to make decisions one way or another but then include instructions contradicting this. For example, if you have three attorneys appointed in your LPA, and the LPA says attorneys should act ‘jointly and severally’, you can't then include an instruction in the LPA to say that decisions are made by majority vote, as by acting jointly and severally, all of the Attorneys have equal power to act and make decisions. 

15. Contradicting another document

A simple stroke of a pen on the P&F LPA can have consequences for a Will. A seemingly innocent statement on an H&W LPA can interfere with an advanced decision. Both LPAs have sections where the untrained or unobservant could create a cascade of unintended consequences that may be expensive, difficult, stressful or unlawful to fix.

16. Writing outside of the boxes

It does not matter whether you use a tick or a cross as long as it is clear what your intent was and it is within the confines of the boxes. Fern Wills uses the latest SWW-approved software to check and write your answers legibly within each box. It also clearly strikes through sections that are not required, making your intent clear.

17. Not completing section 5 of H&W clearly

It is common for people to miss a section if they are unsure of what it means or are uncertain of their own answer. The LPA will be considered invalid if it is not completed in full. 

18. Incorrectly amending mistakes

Mistakes found before the LPA is signed can be corrected. A cross must be put through the mistake, with the correction clearly next to it. The relevant people must sign and date the correction. Any corrections after the donor has signed the document make the LPA invalid. If you attempt to complete the documents online and notice a mistake after printing, you must start the process again. This is because you accepted that the previous copy was final.

19. Amending a new address or other details.

Many customers who do not have ongoing support for their LPAs make mistakes after registration. If you change address, name, or other significant details, the OPG can make those amendments for you if you provide key details and evidence. If you amend the LPA yourself or do not inform other institutions, such as the bank, you will invalidate the LPA. This would mean a new LPA has to be made, or if capacity is lost, the lengthy and expensive process of Deputyship must commence.

20. Mistakes amending erros errors.

Many customers who do not have ongoing support for their LPAs make mistakes after registration. If you change address, name, or other significant details, the OPG can make those amendments for you if you provide key details and evidence. If you amend the LPA yourself or do not inform other institutions, such as the bank, you will invalidate the LPA. This would mean a new LPA has to be made, or if capacity is lost, the lengthy and expensive process of Deputyship must commence.

21. Not paying promptly

Many of us have put off writing an LPA for many years or even had a recent scare that prompted us into action. Customers who DIY or use cheap online services often fail at the last hurdle. They often leave the LPA in a drawer to post or register later. Or they send it for registration and do not pay promptly. This will result in the LPA being ineffective or, if not paid, returned by the OPG.  

22. Illegal requests

Another common fault is to request something illegal, such as assisted dying.

23. Not using Fern Wills & LPAs

OK, a bonus one and a bit of cheeky self-promotion. So many people tell me they can do the paperwork themselves, and why would they use a professional when they can save money? 

You could probably have a go at fixing a gas leak, rewiring some electrics, servicing the brakes on your car, or diagnosing a concussion. I could probably have a good go at your job, but I am sure you would do it best. It is better to have the peace of mind of being among the 100% of Fern Wills clients who have their LPAs approved rather than risk being one of the 10,000 a month who had a go themselves and failed. Errors can cost thousands and cause extreme stress. Do it right because you're doing it for them.

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