The Digitalisation of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) - ‘safer, simpler and fit for the future’

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a vital legal document which appoints a person of trust who will make decisions on your behalf (known as an attorney), either now, should you choose to or when mental capacity is lost. When appointed, the attorneys will be able to make decisions regarding property, financial or health affairs, at a time in the future when you may no longer be able to make those decisions yourself. 

What are the proposed changes?
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in collaboration with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) last year published a consultation on plans for how LPAs can be modernised, streamlined and digitalised.

In modernising LPAs it is considered that digital LPAs may be more useful than the current paper based LPAs. The modernisation of LPAs aims to improve the process of making and registering an LPA by increasing safeguards, improving access and ensuring the OPG is working sustainably while keeping LPAs as affordable as possible.  

Pros of LPAs becoming digitalised

  • It could make it easier for those that are digitally savvy to make an LPA. Online tools will make it easier for attorneys to contact financial institutions and healthcare providers once the LPAs are registered.
  •  It could become cheaper to make an LPA if the process is simplified and costs are cut down due to less paper, equipment, storage and staff. 
  • Currently it is taking up to 20 weeks for LPAs to be registered once they have been signed. If LPAs are digitalised this could cut the registration time from up to 20 weeks to as little as two weeks. The current long time frame for registration can delay important decisions being made so any reduction in this would be most welcomed. 

Drawbacks of LPAs becoming digitalised

  • It could be easier for mistakes to be made online which could be problematic if the mistakes are not corrected. Currently mistakes in paper based LPAs can cause long delays and it is expected this would cause similar delays for online applications. 
  • There could be more opportunity for fraud and abuse of power if LPAs are digital, especially for those clients who are vulnerable or elderly and do not have access to computers or the internet. The Law Society in particular are concerned that there should be sufficient safeguards in place to protect those most at risk. 
  • LPAs are posted by both the OPG and can be posted to attorneys and replacement attorneys for signature. There is clearly a risk therefore of LPAs being lost in the postal system which is both longwinded and can cause unnecessary delays. 

The Private Client Team at Lanyon Bowdler will be here to assist with LPAs both now and in the future and you should always consult with someone experienced in LPAs to ensure they are drafted correctly and meet your needs.