The UK Parliament has now passed the Powers of Attorney Bill enabling the Office of the Public Guardian to introduce a new system for Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs).
Digital LPA applications
The Bill aims to allow individuals to create LPAs via an entirely digital system which is more efficient and easy to use. The changes are likely to be welcomed by many, although concerns have been raised about elderly people or those who are not familiar with technology, as they may find the process more difficult. The OPG therefore plans to update its existing paper LPA application process to run alongside the digital service.
The benefits of online LPA applications
The changes are intended to streamline the process and provide greater protection to the public when making LPAs. For instance, certain parties will be required to provide ID documents during the process to reduce the risk of fraudulent applications by potential attorneys who intend to misuse the donor’s funds. The process also allows for people who are not parties to the LPA to raise an objection if they are concerned about the application.
When using the digital system, different parties can also sign digitally on the same day, to reduce delays in sending documents through the post or arranging meetings to sign together. The process should walk users through the signing process to limit the opportunities for mistakes (which are currently commonplace with LPAs, given the length of the documents and number of signatures and dates required).
The digital process is also intended to be more efficient than the existing paper system, which currently carries significant delays of 20 weeks or more for registration. Given that LPAs are often needed at relatively short notice, for example if the donor is ill or elderly, any delay can be extremely unhelpful. The new system should allow the OPG to process applications more quickly and provide better value for money to its users.
The Bill is currently awaiting royal assent and we do not know when it will come into force, although the OPG is already working on implementing the preparations needed for the new system.
How can Tozers help?
If in doubt, it is best to instruct a professional to assist please contact our specialist later life planning team who will be more than happy to help.