If you have concerns about an elderly or vulnerable person, finding out whether they have an attorney or deputy to assist with their affairs may be crucial.
Many people are unaware that there is a central record which can be searched to confirm this information. Of course, we would recommend speaking to the person first and any family members or friends who may be able to provide this information. However if the person has lost mental capacity or there is no-one available to assist, it may be useful to conduct a search to establish what the position is.
How to search the Office of the Public Guardian registers
The Office of the Public Guardian (‘OPG’) maintains a record of every registered Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’), Enduring Power of Attorney (‘EPA’) and deputyship order. This record can be searched using an OPG100 form, which is found on the Gov.uk website. There is no charge to carry out the search and the form can be submitted by email or post.
The OPG search will reveal whether an LPA, EPA or deputyship order is in place and the name of the person who has been appointed in this role. It should also confirm whether the appointment is in relation to the person’s health and welfare or property and finances (or both) and any specific powers which have been included. Certain additional information may be requested as part of the search, although the OPG will decide whether to disclose this information on a case-by-case basis. The search cannot reveal whether any powers of attorney or deputyship orders are currently being registered or processed by the OPG.
How to make an urgent enquiry to the Office of the Public Guardian
In addition to this search, the OPG has recently introduced an urgent enquiry search which can be conducted by the police force, NHS staff or local authorities. This search will produce a result within 24 hours and may therefore be used if a person is currently at risk and a decision needs to be made swiftly. This urgent search can be made by email from an accredited email address and the OPG’s guidance (linked here) provides a template email. While only accredited users can conduct this search, members of the public may be able to request that the relevant authority carries out an urgent search, for instance during a safeguarding investigation.
If you find that the person does have an attorney or deputy who is not fulfilling their duties, it is possible to report this to the OPG with details of your concerns. The OPG will then consider the report and whether they have authority to investigate the matter further and take action, if necessary.
Our specialist Vulnerable Clients team can offer further help and advice on appointing or administering attorneys, deputies or guardians. If you would like to get in touch please visit our Vulnerable Clients page, or contact our team directly.
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