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Application process for lasting power of attorney legislation could move online

By 4 July 2022Law news, News

The application process for lasting powers of attorney may become available online if plans recently announced by the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) are approved.

Power of attorney is the authority to make decisions on behalf of someone else, usually if their capacity to do so themselves becomes impaired by illness, age or disability. Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 there are two kinds of power of attorney:

• Ordinary power of attorney: usually used for people who need temporary help (for example, during a stay in hospital); and
• Lasting power of attorney (LPAs): formally known as ‘enduring powers of attorney’, these allow the appointed person to act on behalf of an individual, often in a situation in which that individual has permanently lost the ability to make decisions regarding their own finances and/ or welfare.

Both types have been overseen by the Office of the Public Guardian.

Currently, applications for an LPA must be made by post. But under the new proposals, a web-based application process will be added for the first time, in parallel with the introduction of online options for other legal matters, such as divorce.

Justice Minister Tom Pursglove MP said:

“A lasting power of attorney provides comfort and reassurance to millions of people that decisions will be made in their best interests should they lose capacity. Our reforms will make the system easier to access, simpler and even more secure from fraud.”

The proposals would also strengthen the verification process for applications to protect the security of inevitably vulnerable individuals. Applicants will now have to submit documents like their passport or driving licence.

The MOJ explained:

“The number of registered LPAs has increased drastically in recent years to more than 6 million, but the process of making one retains many paper-based features that are over 30 years old.”