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Lasting Power of Attorney Revamp
We all take things for granted – until we no longer have them. It’s human nature. So, when the prospect of losing the ability to make decisions or express an opinion crops up, considering the benefits of drawing up Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) should be top of your agenda.
LPAs (and Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) before them) give someone you trust the legal authority to make decisions on your behalf. But, in 2007, when the government first introduced LPAs, the world was different. Then, a solely paper-based process was commonplace.
Today, demand for digital, easy-to-access goods and services exceeds supply, a trend that was brought into sharp focus when the COVID pandemic hit. Hence the government’s recent announcement of an LPA revamp, making the whole process more up-to-date and ‘fit for purpose’.
Proposals in Brief
Following last year’s consultation, the government’s proposed LPA revamp includes:
- Simplified, easy-to-use process
- Digital service to eradicate errors and accelerate registrations
- Robust security to prevent fraud and abuse
Is the LPA Revamp Necessary?
Currently, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) does not have face-to-face contact with those involved with an LPA. The new system includes digital ID verification checks, using passports, driving licenses or Government Gateway accounts. However, the new proposals don’t compromise the safeguards introduced with LPAs. Alternative protection will remain for those who can’t or choose not to use digital routes.
New Digital Service
The government’s new LPA service will be entirely online for the first time in thirty years. However, following feedback from the Law Society, Age UK and the National Mental Capacity Forum, the paper system will remain in place to protect vulnerable people and those who don’t have access to the internet (around five million +55-year-olds).
That said, checking an application online reduces the number of rejected LPAs and ensures that individuals are protected as soon as possible.
Simplified, Quicker Process
Overall, digitising the paper-based features of LPAs is excellent news both from an environmental standpoint and a practical one. The current waiting time for an LPA to be registered is twenty weeks. The reform hopes to ‘slash waiting times’.
Furthermore, In 2019/2020, the OPG received 19 million sheets of paper. Handing this volume is excessive, expensive and exposes the risk of documents going amiss – and, unfortunately, not a rare occurrence. So, computerising the process reduces the legal risks an entirely paper-based system poses.
Current EPAs and LPAs
If you have an EPA in place, there are options for updating them. First, speak to a lawyer who will be able to tell you whether your EPA offers you the right amount of security or whether it’s better to update your documents to an LPA. Remember, EPAs only protect your finances; they don’t cover your health and welfare.
Regarding current LPAs, the proposals are unlikely to invalidate any LPAs you have in place. However, be aware that changes to your circumstances, such as your deputy can no longer act on your behalf due to death or lack of mental capacity, may mean that your LPA is invalid and unworkable.
Most of the major stakeholders welcome the new proposals. They recognise the need to update a somewhat antiquated, often painfully slow system. However, the dire consequences of getting the application wrong will not be removed by making the process online.
So, it’s essential to talk to a lawyer if you’re considering setting up an LPA or are unsure of your options. They’ll ensure the documents do what you want them to do and that nothing is left to chance. For further information, advice or an instant quotation, please contact us. We’re here to help.
Please note that all views, comments or opinions expressed are for information only and do not constitute and should not be interpreted as being comprehensive or as giving legal advice. No one should seek to rely or act upon, or refrain from acting upon, the views, comments or opinions expressed herein without first obtaining specialist, professional or independent advice. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, Curtis Parkinson cannot be held liable for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies.