LPA reforms to go ahead
Posted on 11th January 2024
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are important if you’re ever in a position where you can’t make decisions for yourself. They allow you to choose people you trust to make decisions about your finances and care on your behalf.
LPAs are a good idea for people of all ages, not just the elderly. However, the process is currently paper-based and slow.
Digitising the old-fashioned LPA process
Now the government has started updating the LPA process. The Powers of Attorney Act has received Royal Assent and soon becomes law. Some other laws require changes before the Act can take effect.
The changes follow a consultation in 2021 which resulted in the Ministry of Justice proposing the changes last year. Taking advantage of online digital technology is intended to speed up the process, but concerns remain about protection for the most vulnerable people.
The proposed new digital Lasting Powers of Attorney process includes identity checks based on official documents. These could include information such as a driving licence, passport or Government Gateway account. It also streamlines who can object to an LPA and how.
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) hopes digitisation will help reduce errors in the process. At least digitally identifying and resolving mistakes is faster than returning paper documents.
An improved paper-based process remains available for those who prefer it.
Simplifying the witnessing process
Currently your LPAs require ink signatures on paper from you, two witnesses and a certificate provider. The certificate provider must confirm several things.
You weren’t pressured to appoint an attorney (duress).
You understand what you are asking your attorneys to do.
You have capacity to make this decision.
A review should also simplify witnessing LPAs whilst still protecting people. This will include allowing CILEX lawyers to certify LPAs as well as solicitors. You or your attorney can use certified copies to register your LPA if you don’t have the original form. Your attorney can also use a certified copy to prove they have permission to make decisions on your behalf. This would allow them to manage your bank account, for example.
If you are thinking about creating Lasting Powers of Attorney please get in touch for an initial discussion.
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