You may have contact with the Office of the Public Guardian if you need help with health and finance decisions, or if you’re planning to set up Power of Attorney. Office of the Public Guardian may be shortened to OPG.
The Office of the Public Guardian fulfils and important role in England. It’s the OPG that will step in to help if you can’t make decisions for yourself. Usually, the Office of the Public Guardian will spend time dealing with Power of Attorney.
If you’re giving someone Power of Attorney, it’s the OPG that you’ll send your forms too. Read on to find out more about the Office of the Public Guardian and what they do in England.
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The Office of the Public Guardian for England and Wales will carry out its work in accordance with the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Anyone could lose their mental capacity at any time, and though many can prepare there are some that go through this without warning. With the Office of the Public Guardian to help, there are certain protections in place.
You can apply to name one or more attorneys to make decisions on your behalf. Your application will be processed, in this case, by the Office of the Public Guardian. But, processing Power of Attorney isn’t where this role stops. The OPG can also step in if there are concerns about attorneys, as well as making sure that attorneys are able to do the job they’ve been trusted with.
The Office of the Public Guardian was formed in 2007. It’s part of the Ministry of Justice, and replaced the Public Guardianship Office (PGO) that filled a similar role in the past.
Previous Public Guardians have included Richard Brook, who has also been the Chief Executive of Mind, the mental health charity and Sense, the deafblind charity, and Alan Eccles who worked as a barrister for more than 30 years.
The Office of the Public Guardian can register Lasting Power of Attorney and appoint deputies for court orders.
The OPG also acts in a supervisory role. The OPG can investigate if it’s thought that an attorney, or deputy, is not doing what they should.
If you no longer have the mental capacity to make decisions on your own, existing Lasting Power of Attorney should mean that you’ve assigned someone you trust. Still, it may help you to know that you’re protected by the Office of the Public Guardian. If your attorney might not be acting in your best interests, the OPG can step in to protect you.
If you’re setting up Lasting Power of Attorney, there is an address to send forms to. The Office of the Public Guardian cannot be accessed in communities, so most referrals come from professionals like GPs, health and social care practitioners concerned about a member of the public.
The Office of the Public Guardian may step in if it’s believed that funds are being misused, if care fees have gone unpaid or if it’s thought that a donor might have signed an LPA under duress. The Office of the Public Guardian may also be involved if there are concerns about abuse or neglect.
The Office of the Public Guardian will only be involved in issues specifically relating to Power of Attorney. It isn’t their job to investigate an attorney for any other reason, or to investigate anything that happened before Power of Attorney had been registered.
The Office of the Public Guardian maintains a record of registered attorneys and guardians. This isn’t available for public access, for obvious privacy reasons.
If you’d like to search the register, you must fill in an OPG100 form. You will need to provide the personal details of the person that you’re searching for, to see if they’re a donor with attorneys or guardians acting on their behalf.
The OPG100 form requires you to know the full name, date of birth and address of the donor. You must also specify whether you’re searching for Lasting Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Attorney or Deputyship Court Orders. You’ll need to explain why it’s important that you’re given that information, as well as being able to demonstrate that you have tried to find it in other ways.
Requests for information are considered on a case-by-case basis, with the OPG using discretion to decide if information can or should be released. If rejected, you’ll receive an explanation of why.
If you need to set up Lasting Power of Attorney, this will be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. To register an LPA, you can fill in the LPA forms online, or might prefer to download and print the Lasting Power of Attorney forms.
It can take several weeks to register Lasting Power of Attorney, so you will need to allow some time for your application to be processed. You can set this up at any time, and it makes sense to do it as soon as possible. You never know when you may not be mentally capable to make your own decisions, and so having LPA in place sooner is beneficial.
Once your Lasting Power of Attorney is registered, it will be maintained by the Office of the Public Guardian. Your details will be kept on a list that isn’t publicly accessible, though concerned parties may be able to access these details with very good reason. The Office of the Public Guardian acts as gatekeeper and guard, maintaining the LPA register whilst making sure that you are kept safe from abuse and neglect.
To pay for Lasting Power of Attorney documents to be registered, you will need to send £82 along with your LPA forms. This can be sent as a cheque, or you can request a telephone call to process this administration payment. If you’d like to register both types of Lasting Power of Attorney (financial/property and medical/care), you will pay a total registration fee of £164.
Fees may be waived if you’re in receipt of certain means-tested benefits. Reductions of 50% are also available, given to people that earn less than £12,000 annually. If you believe that you may be eligible for a reduction in fees, you can express this on your form to be reviewed by the OPG.
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