The Powers of Attorney Act 2023 will make the Lasting Powers of Attorney (“LPA”) system safer, simpler and fit for the future. The Act has now received Royal Assent and is expected to come into force within the next few months. Jodee Mayer examines the changes.
A power of attorney is a legal document that allows someone to make decisions on another person’s behalf if they are no longer able or no longer want to make their own decisions.
Currently, LPAs require a paper application form to be signed (even when the information is filled in online). Despite being a private agreement between the donor and their attorney(s), an LPA must be registered with the office of the Public Guardian (“OPG”) before it can be used. Currently, LPAs take 20 weeks (sometimes longer) to be registered, and the OPG is handling thousands of pieces of paper a week.
The new legislation will enable an LPA to be completed entirely online. The digitisation of the process will make it easier to access for many people who want to make an LPA and, hopefully, improve processing times. It is expected that once the donor has completed an LPA and all parties have signed and returned their parts, the OPG will register an LPA in less than eight weeks. Half of that time will be the statutory four-week waiting period, which is an important safeguard.
The new system is also expected to ensure errors are dealt with more easily and quickly, as mistakes can be picked up earlier and fixed online rather than documents having to be posted back and forth between the applicant and the OPG.
The option for paper applications and a combination of online and paper applications will remain in place, with an improved paper process being introduced for those wishing to use it.
The Powers of Attorney Act 2023 also introduces measures to better protect against fraud and abuse, including allowing the OPG to check the identity of those involved in the LPA.
The OPG is now testing and refining the online and paper application systems and working to ensure it is ready to introduce the new service, which will include the need for secondary legislation. In the meantime, it has increased the number of staff processing applications.
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