All Change at the Office of the Public Guardian
The start of Summer sees change at the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and not just because there’s a new Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove.
The Office of the Public Guardian is part of the Ministry of Justice but the changes that are being rolled out at the OPG have nothing to do with the Cabinet re-shuffle.
Sally Jones, Head of Legal at the Office of the Public Guardian told a group of private client law solicitors in Nottingham recently that a number of changes are being made by the OPG in an effort to make the process of making and registering Lasting Powers of Attorney clearer.
The role of the OPG is also now likely to be extended by reason of the impact of sections 42 to 45 of the Care Act 2014. We may also see the Public Guardian being given a role in investigating deprivation of liberty cases in the future.
Sally Jones explained to the group of Nottingham lawyers how the work of the Office of the Public Guardian is allocated between its offices. Registration of Lasting Powers of Attorney is dealt with by the Birmingham office of the OPG whilst the Nottingham office handles deputyship matters.
Office of the Public Guardian issues new forms
New LPA forms which are coming in to use from July 2015 have been redesigned and rewritten with the intention of reducing the number of errors made when LPAs are completed.
The current LPA documents, which will continue to be accepted by the OPG for registration for the foreseeable future, can result in as many as 41 different errors when they are completed by donors, according to Sally Jones.
Although there is an on-going drive by government to increase public use of the OPG’s digital services, Sally Jones said that the vast majority of LPAs are made using the paper versions of the documents and most people still choose to use a solicitor to help them with the process of making and registering a Lasting Power of Attorney.
She said there are no plans to phase out the use of paper LPAs or registration application forms.
Closer supervision of deputies by the Office of the Public Guardian
The Public Guardian is also authorising changes to the regime for applying for deputies to be appointed to manage the affairs of mentally incapacitated people.
There were over 53,000 deputyship applications last year. With so many applications being made it has apparently been decided there should be greater supervision of the actions of deputies.
In future all deputies will be required to submit an annual report.
Last year more than 500 cases were sent to the Court of Protection for deputies to be removed from their roles due to failures and fraud. It is hoped that closer supervision will reduce that number.
A number of other changes and improvements will be seen at the OPG in the coming months.
We will keep you up to date on how the various changes could affect you.
About the Author
Rosamund Evans is a solicitor and registered Trust and Estate Practitioner. She is a full member of STEP and Solicitors For The Elderly and is Regional Co-ordinator for the SFE Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regional Group.