Digital Powers of Attorney: The proposed LPA Bill
The government has backed a private members bill, brought by Conservative MP Stephen Metcalfe that aims to modernise Lasting Powers of Attorney (“LPAs”) by allowing LPAs to be made digitally and/or on paper with an electric record that could be used as evidence of the LPAs registration.
What is a lasting power of attorney?
An LPA is a legal agreement designed to protect people (the donor) who may lack the mental capacity to make decisions about their care, treatment and financial affairs. An LPA ensures that a person’s wishes and preferences can be taken into account and reduces the stress and burden on families when capacity is lost unexpectedly. It is arguably one of the most important legal documents that a person will make because they delegate such wide-reaching powers over their life.
What will the LPA bill contain?
Due to the recent pandemic, prevalence of dementia, and our growing ageing population, LPAs have become increasingly important. As a consequence of their rising popularity and the reliance on paper applications, the Office of the Public Guardian (“OPG”) are drowning in paperwork; with a registration timescale of 20 weeks against its target of 8 weeks.
If the Bill passes, it will bring the following changes:
- Chartered Legal Executives will be allowed to certify copies of LPAs.
- Registration of the LPA will only be done by the donor. This will remove the ability for attorneys to apply to register the LPA, increasing the safeguarding of the donor.
- The Bill will create a digital channel to make an LPA, whilst also improving the paper channel for those who need/choose to use paper or a hybrid of both digital and paper. A digital route will make LPAs more efficient and allow for a speedier process reducing the administrative burdens on individuals and automate many checks that should reduce the risk of errors in the paperwork that often delay registration of the LPA.
- The Bill will introduce identity checks as a requirement of registration. This is an important safeguard that will assure the OPG that those who claim to be involved in the LPA are who they say they are and reduce the risk of fraud by false representation. These regulations could apply to any person named in the LPA or taking part in the process (donor, certificate provider, attorneys and replacement attorneys). If the requirements for ID checks are not met, the OPG cannot register the LPA.
- A notification process, requiring the OPG to notify parties when an application is complete and when the registration process is starting.
- The new Bill will allow a wider group of people to raise objections to the OPG so that it is easier to lodge a concern. This will be done through a triage system for certain types of objections. This is a vital safeguard that will include those with a legitimate concern such as local authorities, care workers and the police, who have a statutory safeguarding duty but who previously did not have a formal route through which to express their concern.
- An electronic version of the registered LPA will be able to be used as evidence to third parties such as banks and care homes that the attorneys are able to act for the donor. This will save families countless time and stress having to go through the hassle of getting a certified copy of the LPA or taking the original LPA with them.
What impact will the LPA bill have?
Overall, the proposed Bill will ensure the LPA process is simpler, and safer and will allow for a more positive experience for all parties involved throughout the creation and use of the LPA.
If you want to discuss setting up a lasting power of attorney to protect your future decisions on the care you receive, hospital treatment or your finances, our team can help. Get in touch via the contact form here or on this page, alternatively, you can call us on 01453 847200.