Lasting Powers of Attorney in 2014

This year looks set to be a hugely significant one for lasting powers of attorneys (LPAs). As you may know, a Lasting Power of Attorney, or LPA for short, is a legal document which allows you to appoint someone to make decisions about such things as property, finances, health and welfare. The reason it's to be featured in the news is because the process of completing LPA forms digitally began in 2013 and looks set to consolidate further in 2014.

The reason for switching the LPA process to digital is simple. It is part of a larger scheme for what the Government calls "digital by default", which is summed up well by Computer World. They say that the Government will save £500m in 2014 and that these savings will directly be passed on to the taxpayer. More speficially they say that "digitising the paper-based ‘lasting power of attorney’ has resulted in the cost of the service dropping from £130 to £110."

The introduction of digital LPA forms started in July 2013, however there is still much to be improved upon with the forms subject to changes. The next update to the digital process will take place in April 2014 (see Transforming the services of the Office of the Public Guardian for the full details of the process), with many users waiting until those changes before beginning using the digital process. One of those waiting until April is Eleanor Evans on the Hugh James blog, who summarises the current situation as such:

"It is not yet known when the digital lasting power of attorney proposals will be implemented. It will be possible under these proposals to complete lasting powers of attorney entirely digitally, with no physical signature and without a witness. The Law Society have made known their opposition to these proposals, which would seem to increase the risk of fraud and abuse. It remains to be seen how the Office of the Public Guardian will propose safeguarding against these risks, and we shall have to watch this space."

If that makes you curious as to why The Law Society are opposed to the digitisation scheme you should read their article Proposals to fully digitise Lasting Powers of Attorney would threaten most vulnerable to fully understand their reasoning. In the article, the Society's Nicholas Fluck shares his concern:

"The Society has serious concerns about the proposed introduction of a fully digital system without traditional physical signatures as this removes an essential safeguard against abuse of a highly vulnerable sector of society, who are the most susceptible to fraud and duress."

It's for these reasons that you can expect to hear a lot more as the Lasting Power of Attorney process, both in paper (which is still changing as LPAs were only introduced in 2005) and digital form, are refined and discussed.

If you have any questions about Lasting Powers or Attorneys or would like to find out more about our LPA service please feel free to explore our LPA page or give us a call.

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