A Reform of the Lasting Powers of Attorney Process


Posted on: November 3rd, 2021

The Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Public Guardian have been having ongoing
discussions since July 2021 on how to reform the process of making Lasting Powers of
Attorney.They have been doing this with the aim of making the process easier and more
accessible to the average person.

Anybody who has attempted to put in place these documents may be aware of the
difficulties which come with doing so. Whether this be the lengthy registration process (the
Office of the Public Guardian are now estimating a 15-20 week registration period) or the
finicky procedure of preparing the paper documents, the reform aims to modernise the
process with a fully digital route to appointing attorneys.

This reform is seeming to help make the Lasting Power of Attorney process a much easier
one. However, the discussions of reform do not come without criticism.

It can be appreciated that moving to a predominantly online service may make the process
much more practical and efficient. However, it should not be disregarded that there is a
large proportion of society that are not well versed in modern technology or do not have
access to this. This factor would need to be considered if there was going to be a move to
paperless applications.

There is yet to be any clarification on how online applications would be signed and
witnessed. The paper-based applications that we have now are largely made up of signature
pages for donors and attorneys to sign and have witnessed. To modify physical and face-to-
face signing and witnessing could pave the way for potential exploitation of the vulnerable
which could lead to financial abuse.

Further to the above point, it should be questioned how an online form would provide
sufficient checks of mental capacity. Section 10 of the current LPA forms require a signature
from a ‘certificate provider’ who attests to the donor’s capacity. it should be queried
whether an online process would sufficiently lend itself to ensuring the full capacity of those
making the document, if no face-to-face contact is required.

As expressed by Jemma Slingo in ‘Society voices ‘genuine concerns’ about power of attorney
reforms’, published in the Law Society Gazette this month, the Law society has determined
that it needs to be ensured that the ‘safeguards are not put at risk due to MoJ and OPG’s
consultation, which seeks to simplify the process, to keep LPAs affordable, and to move to a
predominantly digital service,’ the Law Society concluded. It is clear that a balance needs to
be established between ensuring that the process is efficient and accessible, but also
needing an element of complexity to deter fraudulent behaviour by ensuring the documents
do not seem like a quick and easy way to gain access to a vulnerable person’s finances.
At Cygnet Law, we appreciate that these applications are difficult to complete and that

reform should be welcomed. The potential reform may help many people wanting to
prepare the documents themselves, be able to do so in the future. But it is vital that
relevant safeguards will be implemented so that the vulnerable are protected. For now, we
must wait and see what changes this reform may bring in the coming months.

If you would like further information about putting in place Lasting Powers of Attorney for
yourself of a loved one, or if you would like to make an appointment in respect of this,
please call our offices on 01642 777680.

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