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More than a million LPAs registered in 2023, ‘record’ statistics show 

by | Apr 4, 2024

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More than a million people applied for lasting power of attorney last year, the highest annual total on record.

Family court statistics show there were 1,161, 958 LPAs registered in 2023, up 37% on the previous year. 

There has been a sharp rise in recent years, attributed to various factors including large parts of the process being moved online, but it is the first time applications have passed the one million mark. 

 
 

Katie de Swarte, a wills and probate partner at Osbornes Law, warned that the number is likely to climb even higher if proposed legislation to make the entire process remote is approved.

An LPA is a legal document which allows individuals to appoint others to manage their affairs should they lose mental capacity. There are two types – one for health and welfare and the other for property and financial affairs. 

Katie said: “This record increase can be partly attributed to the Covid pandemic, which prompted many people to get their affairs in order. Like the surge in wills, there was also a spike in people wanting LPAs to ensure they had plans in place should there come a point when they could not make decisions for themselves. 

 

“Earlier diagnosis of dementia will also be a contributory factor, with doctors now routinely advising their patients to make LPAs.

“Awareness of LPAs and their purpose has increased greatly in recent years, and being able to complete large parts of the process online rather than having to go through a solicitor has made it a lot more accessible. 

“Proposed legislation to make the entire process remote, if approved, will likely lead to a further rise. Given the existing backlog, it is also likely to mean further delays.

 
 

“Sadly, I think another unintended consequence of this will be an increase in cases of abuse. 

“At present, an LPA still needs to be signed and witnessed in person but removing that step may well make it easier for unscrupulous people to exploit those in a more vulnerable position. It will be interesting to see what safeguards, if any, will be implemented to stop this from happening.”

The recently published data also shows the number of divorce applications fell by 9% last year although there were 103,501 final orders – previously known as decree absolute – granted, up by almost a third (29%).

 

Mark Freedman, head of family at Osbornes Law, added: “A combination of factors has driven the huge spike in 2023. These include those whose marriages broke down during the Covid lockdowns but who had to wait for the family court backlog begin to clear, as well as those who initiated proceedings after the introduction of no-fault divorce. The mandatory ‘cooling off’ period now required – a minimum of 20 weeks – means that anyone who applied in the second half of 2022 would not have been able to finalise their divorce until the following year. Both these things have skewed the figures, as has the cost-of-living crisis which has forced many people to stay trapped in unhappy marriages simply because they cannot afford to leave. Only when these financial pressures start to ease might we see a truly accurate picture.”

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