The Powers of Attorney Act Paves the Way for Digital Transformation

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which enables individuals to appoint up to four attorneys to handle their affairs on their behalf should they lose either physical or mental capacity. Without a Lasting Power of Attorney in place, there would be no person who would have the automatic right to handle your affairs on your behalf.

Interest in registering a Lasting Power of Attorney has increased drastically in recent years, with the Office of the Public Guardian issuing around 1 million Lasting Powers of Attorney between 2022 and 2023. This involves processing more than 19 million pieces of paper and has resulted in an application process that takes around 3-4 months. In a bid to reform the current system and become more environmentally sustainable, the Powers of Attorney Act 2023 has officially passed into law.

A key feature of the Act is to introduce a comprehensive digital platform that is expected to streamline the current process and cut the backlogs in applications. While the digital process is expected to significantly reduce the time taken for registration, the current paper process will remain in place for individuals without access to digital resources. The digital platform also aims to avoid unnecessary delays by identifying avoidable errors in the application earlier and allowing for them to be fixed online rather than being posted back and forth between the applicant and the Office of the Public Guardian.

The digital process is currently in development by the Office of the Public Guardian and will include additional safeguards aimed at strengthening the existing fraud protection measures. It is believed that this will include identity verification for individuals seeking to register the Lasting Power of Attorney and may extend to all persons named in the application. There is also scope to widen the pool of people eligible to object and expedite the objection process.

In the interim, the Office of the Public Guardian has developed its operational capacity by increasing the number of staff processing current applications.

Individuals who are interested in creating a Lasting Power of Attorney should remember that it is a serious legal document that grants decision-making power to somebody else. It is therefore very important that the application is drafted correctly, and that the applicant understands what they are doing. This duty is placed on a certificate provider who bears the responsibility to ensure the applicant has mental capacity to make the application.

We strongly recommend that you choose a regulated legal professional to assist you in the application. If you would like help or advice on creating a Lasting Power of Attorney, please reach out to Ann-Marie Aston on [email protected] or on  0121 733 800.


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