The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has acknowledged that it is taking longer than it should to register lasting power of attorney forms.
In its annual report the body - which was set up in October - said it was taking an average of 13 weeks to process lasting powers of attorney, four weeks longer than its nine-week target.
Former OPG head Richard Brook said: "It is becoming increasingly clear these timescales are often not what the customer expects or wishes to see when trying to deal with urgent issues around vulnerable people."
He said his successor will be reviewing the lasting power of attorney registration system and examining how best to reduce the time it takes to process the documents.
A lasting power of attorney allows someone to appoint a trusted friend or family member to make decisions about their property and financial affairs or their health and well-being on their behalf should they lose the mental capacity to do so themselves.
Anyone over the age of 18 can draw up a lasting power of attorney and legal experts urge people to do so as early as possible to ensure the document is in place should it be called upon urgently.
Published on: August 7, 2008