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Lasting Powers of Attorney: plans to overhaul system into a digital service

In an announcement earlier this July (2021) the government has announcement a reform of the Lasting Powers of Attorney system in England and Wales. They have launched a 12-week consultation period with a view to overhauling the legal process of creating Lasting Powers of Attorney (“LPAs”) into a predominantly digital service.

What exactly is an LPA?

An LPA gives the person/people who you trust the legal authority to make financial or health decisions for you – should you want and/or need them to do so. Your appointed attorney(s) can help manage finances, pay expenses, give consent to medical treatment, and organise care. An LPA can protect both the person who needs help, as well as those close to them, such as dependents.  

Without a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, no one is legally authorised to make a decision for a person who has lost mental capacity (not even a spouse). This could leave both the person incapable of making a decision, and their family, vulnerable and exposed. Without an LPA in place, if a decision needs to be made on your behalf, whoever assumes responsibility of your affairs will need to make an application to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. This process can be costly and time-consuming, and there will be on-going reporting requirements to the Court. A Deputyship Order for health and welfare decisions can be very difficult to obtain.

What changes is the government looking to make?

There are currently over 5m registered LPAs in England & Wales but there are concerns in government that the system for preparation and registration is too slow and too difficult to use.

It currently takes around 12 weeks from submission of the LPAs to the Office of the Public Guardian (“OPG”) to registration provided that there are no errors on the LPAs or there are no objections to registration. If there are errors or objections then the period can be significantly longer.

As part of the consultation the government is considering a fast-track process for families who need to quickly set up and register an LPA for a relative whose circumstances has suddenly changed.

Nick Goodwin, Public Guardian for England and Wales, said:

“More people are taking the vital step to plan for the future by applying for lasting powers of attorney, and we want to make sure that it is as safe and simple as possible to do so.”

“This consultation puts forward proposals which will allow us to make the service fit for the modern world – one that can be accessed online, and which grants OPG the power to conduct thorough checks to protect against fraud while making it easier for people to raise concerns.”

Although the intention is to speed up and simplify the process it brings into focus now more than ever the need to carefully consider who should be appointed as an Attorney and the powers that they should be given. It will still be vitally important that Attorneys can be relied upon absolutely to fulfil their role so that abuse of the process does not take place.

Want to find out more about Lasting Power of Attorneys? 

Take a look at our previous blog post: The importance of Lasting Powers of Attorney at any stage of life

How can we help?

Eric Robinson Solicitors have an expert team who will make putting in place an LPA as safe and simple as possible for you. We will ensure that the LPAs reflect the wishes of the person appointing the Attorneys and that the LPAs will be registered with the OPG within their new hoped for timeframes.