Easier, simpler and more secure: new legislation for Lasting Power of Attorney (Updated Oct 2023)

 30 October 2023
Easier, simpler and more secure: new legislation for Lasting Power of Attorney (Updated Oct 2023)

The new Powers of Attorney bill has now been passed with the aim to “simplify and streamline lasting powers of attorney”.

According to a government press release:

“The Powers of Attorney Act fires the starting gun on bringing the existing paper-based process online for the first time. The changes, when introduced, will make the system quicker, easier to access and more secure for the thousands of people who make and rely on a lasting power of attorney every year.”

The Bill was originally introduced by Stephen Metcalf MP and has enjoyed cross party support. The current Justice Minister Mike Freer is clear about the benefits:

“Millions of people rely on a lasting power of attorney to make sure their care and finances are taken care of should they lose mental capacity. This Act allows us to modernise the service, introduce new safeguards from fraud and abuse and make it simpler to give people peace of mind their interests will be protected.”

Updating an aging system

The current system at the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is more than 30 years old and is predominately paper-based. With over 6 million LPAs already registered, the paper-based system requires the Office of the Public Guardian to handle a mind-boggling 19 million pieces of paper each year. The OPG have increased the number of staff handling registrations and dealing with 19,000 more lasting powers of attorney a month than in 2019.

That’s why the digital system will be such an improvement. According to an article in FT Advisor:

"Although the OPG did introduce a digital tool to allow attorneys to contact organisations more easily, the final stages of the process (for example, the signing, witnessing, attesting and delivering the LPA) still need to be completed on paper.

The registration period can also take a long time (lasting up to 20 weeks on average), which can be problematic when a donor has since lost mental capacity and the attorneys are unable to make decisions on their behalf until the LPA has been registered."

Not sure what an LPA is?

See our article "What is an LPA and why do I need one?"

What the new Power of Attorney Bill will change

The new POA Bill changes aspects of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to make the LPA process simpler and easier to access, and secure the system from potential abuse and fraud.

The new Bill's changes include:

  • Only donors can apply to register an LPA.
  • LPAs can be signed digitally, on paper, or a combination of both.
  • The OPG can notify potential named attorneys directly.
  • New proof of ID requirements such as a driving licence, passport or government gateway account (more on the issues around ID in this blog!)
  • More inclusive process for parties to raise objections.
  • Recognition of electronic forms as evidence of registration, not just paper copies.

These updates apply to both the Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney and the Property and Finance Lasting Power of Attorney. The aim is to bring the LPA system into line with recent updates to the court system and in particular the Court of Protection and wider court system.

Why go digital

As the Government press release says:

The digitalisation will speed up registration time by picking up errors earlier and allowing them to be fixed online rather than having to wait for documents to be posted back and forth between the applicant and the Office of the Public Guardian as currently happens.

What's more, as the FT article points out:

"The newly digitised service will likely be welcome news for many who may have lost confidence in the postal service."

When are the changes happening?

No timescale has been given to date for when the changes will happen. As Amy Holmes, the current Public Guardian for England and Wales explained:

“Our focus now is on continuing to develop, test and refine a new online platform and improved paper process to ensure we provide a service that will include additional safeguards and suit the needs of all our customers.”

Should I get an LPA now?

It is our strong recommendation that if you haven't got LPAs for you and your partner, that you start the process asap. You can do it yourself online, but your LPAs are such an important pair of documents that we suggest taking professional advice to help complete the forms correctly and properly signed, as changing an LPA is not straightforward.

Help creating lasting Powers of Attorney

For help with your LPAs:

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