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09 Aug 2021

Wills & Probate

Modernising the Power of Attorney System – making LPA’s fit for the modern world

The BBC recently reported that Ministers are looking to overhaul the legal process where individuals appoint someone to make property, financial, health and welfare decisions on their behalf, should they lose the ability to make those decisions themselves.

Afonwy Howell-Pryce, an associate in our Wills and Probate team looks at what is being proposed to modernise the power of attorney system and what impact it could have for the future.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A ‘Lasting Power of Attorney’ (LPA) is a legal document which allows an individual to appoint a person or persons to make decisions about their health, care and finances, should they lose the ability to do so in the future.

There is a common misconception that LPAs are generally only for older people, but they can be made by anyone over the age of 18.

Fit for the modern world

The current paper based-system for registering an LPA is cumbersome and can take months for the process to be completed. There has been a surge in LPA applications brought on by the pandemic, as people give more consideration to the importance of planning for the future. There are now over 5 million LPAs registered in England and Wales.

On 24 August 2020, the first registered LPA ever to have been signed electronically was registered by the Office for the Public Guardian (OPG) as lockdown made it apparent just how important the ability to access online services are.

Next steps

The Government has begun a 3 month consultation process examining how technology can be used to reform the process of witnessing as well as improving access, simplifying and speeding up the service. In addition, a fast-track is being considered for families who need to set up an LPA for a relative who has suddenly been taken ill and whether measures can be implemented to safeguard against abuse and fraud.

The consultation launched on 20 July 2021 and will run until 13 October 2021.

These changes are welcome news to professionals and clients as more people take steps to plan for their future. Simplifying and speeding up this process, whilst also making sure the safeguards are still in place, can only be beneficial to everyone involved and moving to a more digital model is a sign of the times.

If you would like to talk to one of our friendly, specialist team at Harding Evans about preparing a lasting power of attorney, we have years of experience and can talk you through the whole process. Visit our website at www.hardingevans.com, email hello@hevans.com or call 01633 244233 or 029 2267 6818

Read the BBC article here.


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