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Lasting Power of Attorney service to be modernised

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New processes are coming into force to modernise the process when making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

More and more people are now thinking about making life easier for their loved ones and planning ahead by making an LPA. It’s always advisable to make a Will to make things simpler when you have passed away, but you can work with your family or chosen attorney when making an LPA.  Now this process is to be strengthened and modernised under major reforms recently announced.

The pandemic has brought about many things, but one major change is how it has modernised some legal processes and this is a shift to a predominantly digital service.  Of course, this is still managed by your solicitor and so at Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers, we will deal with all the changes for you.  It is expected that the new system will have improved safeguards to protect against fraud and abuse.

Speaking about the changes and challenges faced, legal adviser at Pearson Solicitors in Oldham, Lucy Roughley, says:  “LPAs have become even more important in light of the pandemic. They allow attorneys to help family members who cannot do things themselves i.e. through isolating or being unwell. They help you protect your most vulnerable family members.”

“Things have become more digital since the pandemic – people are isolating and lockdowns have meant it isn’t always possible to be around loved ones. Sometimes it has been hard to witness documents such as LPAs as quickly as we would have done due to social distancing and lockdowns,” she adds.

The number of registered lasting powers of attorney (LPA) has increased drastically in recent years to more than five million, but the process of making one has retained many paper-based features that are over 30 years old.

The new process will examine from start to finish the creating and registering an LPA – and look to boost the Office of the Public Guardian’s (OPG) powers to prevent fraud and abuse, while introducing a mainly digital service.

The government has announced a 12 week consultation program to examine how technology can be used to reform the process of witnessing, improve access and speed up the service. The consultation will propose widening the OPG’s legal powers to check identities and stop or delay any registrations that raise concern.

It will also look at making the process for objecting to the registration of an LPA simpler to help stop potentially abusive LPAs.

What is lasting power of attorney (LPA)?

An LPA is a legal document that allows people to appoint someone else (an attorney) to make decisions about their welfare, money or property. They are often used by older people to choose someone they know and trust to make decisions for them were they to lose capacity in the future - but can be made by anyone over the age of 18.  We also advise business owners to consider an LPA no matter what their age, it allows someone to make key decisions should they become incapacitated in any way.

The consultation will look at:

  • How witnessing works, and whether remote witnessing or other safeguards are desirable.
  • How to reduce the chance of an LPA being rejected due to avoidable errors.
  • Whether the OPG’s remit should be expanded to have the legal authority to carry out further checks such as identification verification.
  • How people can object to an LPA and the process itself, as well as when is the right time for an objection to be made.
  • Whether a new urgent service is needed to ensure those who need an LPA granted quickly can get one.
  • How solicitors access the service and the best way to facilitate this.

Any substantial changes will require amendments to the Mental Capacity Act 2005 which brought in the current system.

“Working together family members are able to remotely prepare LPAs which is beneficial in current uncertain climate with lockdowns and they are also useful for family members who live abroad,” adds Lucy.

“Technology and digitalisation helps to make important things such as LPAs easier for people to use in what can be very difficult situations and it means that affairs can be managed quicker and any problems can be dealt with easier, the new reforms proposed will only enhance this process.”

Lasting power of attorney was introduced in 2007 as part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. This replaced the previous system of Enduring Power of Attorney that had been in place since 1986.

For advice on making a Will or types of Lasting Power of Attorney contact our Wills, Trusts and Probate Solicitors on 0161 785 3500 or email enquiries@pearsonlegal.co.uk

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

Written by Lucy Roughley

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