New legislation paves the way for a digital application process for lasting powers of attorney

A Powers of Attorney Bill, which will enable lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) to be applied for digitally, has passed through parliament successfully and received Royal Assent.

The application process for creating lasting powers of attorney is currently paper-based. Paper forms must be manually completed and signed in wet ink. Errors can result in a delay in registering the LPA or the LPA not being legally valid. The forms can seem complex, and errors are common. In August 2023, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) published guidance on how to avoid the most common mistakes. The Powers of Attorney Bill is intended to simplify the process.

What is an LPA?

An LPA is a legal document which allows you to appoint a trusted individual, or individuals, as your attorney. Your attorney can then be empowered to make decisions on your behalf in circumstances where you are unable to do so yourself. These circumstances can range from you being physically absent when a document needs to be signed, to you lacking the mental capacity to continue to make decisions for yourself. The decisions involved can relate to financial or health matters, or both. Registering a power of attorney therefore prevents you from losing control over how your affairs are handled in the future.

How will a digital application process help?

The new digital LPA application process should be quicker and easier than the paper-based process. The digital process is intended to be a more modern, accessible way of making an LPA. Additionally, some of the common errors identified by the OPG could be avoided by a digital application process:

  • Printing application forms in the wrong format
  • Mixing up the order of pages
  • Amendments needing to be initialled to be valid

There are concerns that a digital system could be abused, so safeguards will need to be built into the process to prevent this. In addition, it is expected that paper-based LPAs will continue to be accepted, as it is acknowledged that not everyone would be able to use a digital system. 

When will the new digital application process be available?

The new digital service is still in development. Further legislative changes will then be needed to implement the new process. These things will take time, so it is impossible to state when the digital application process will be available. In the meantime, it is still possible to create an LPA using the paper-based application process. Once your LPA is registered you can have the peace of mind of knowing that your attorney will be able to act for you should the need arise.

The OPG have stated that they will be continuing work on implementing the new process over the coming year and will be issuing updates along the way, so digital LPAs are on the horizon…

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Every piece of content we create is correct on the date it’s published but please don’t rely on it as legal advice. If you’d like to speak to us about your own legal requirements, please contact one of our expert lawyers.

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