Authorized recommendation: Authorities launches session on reforms of everlasting energy of lawyer

The process for applying for a permanent power of attorney (LPA) is currently mostly on paper, with the Office of Public Guardian (OPG) receiving 19 million sheets of paper in the form of LPAs in paper form in 2019/20, writes Jacqui Pearce of Woodfines attorneys.

The inefficiencies resulting from the handling and storage of such large volumes of paper documents prompted the OPG to launch a consultation on digitizing the LPA process.

The consultation, which opened on July 20 and ends on October 13, 2021, contains proposals for increasing the use of technology to modernize and accelerate the process.

Jacqui Pearce of Woodfine’s attorneys

What are LPAs?

Introduced in 2007, an LPA is a legal document that enables one person (the donor) to give another person or persons (the lawyers) legal authority to make decisions on their behalf in the event that they lose their mental capacity. There are two types of LPA:

1) Health and Welfare

2) Property and Financial Matters

An LPA for property and financial matters is valid upon registration, whereas an LPA for health and welfare not only has the same registration requirement, but can only be used if the donor is unable to make such decisions himself.

Modernization of permanent powers of attorney

On a blog posted on July 22nd, the Public Guardian Office stated, “The evolution of digital channels has changed the way people think and act, and we need to adapt our processes to ensure we meet the needs of the public.”

It goes on to say, “Our goal is to use technology to improve our LPA services without compromising security or restricting access for people who are not online in the future.”

The following suggestions should be considered:

  • Changing the rules for witnesses, for example by using digital methods to support remote inquiry or replacing the need for a witness with a similar safeguard.
  • Improving the application process, including reducing the likelihood of application rejection and introducing ways to digitally save completed LPAs before sending them for registration.
  • Extending the powers of the OPG to carry out more comprehensive controls of LPAs and to take measures to stop or delay registration outside the protective court if those controls have failed or are inconclusive.
  • Clarify and streamline the current process to object to the registration of an LPA and investigate where in the process it is best to raise objections.
  • Increase service efficiency by reducing the time it takes someone to create and register an LPA.
  • Investigate whether a new, “urgent” service is needed to quickly register LPAs for those who need one quickly.
  • Better support lawyers with accessing the service and how best to achieve it

Part of a major overhaul

The consultation comes after the HMCTS Probate Service went fully online in late 2020 in response to the rapid acceleration of digitization caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

First introduced in 2018, the online service was part of a major overhaul of HMCTS that began in 2016 and aimed to modernize and centralize what many considered to be an outdated and inefficient system.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with the closure of regional estate offices and kinks in the online system, has resulted in significant delays.

Further information on the current status of estate delays can be found here in the update from our Wills & Estate team.

What now?

The publication of the consultation document will be followed by a series of online workshops in August and September to examine the proposals in more detail.

All interested parties are encouraged to participate and those wishing to participate in the consultation can do so on the government website.

In the meantime, our Wills, Trusts & Estates department is available to help our clients create and register an LPA as quickly and efficiently as possible.

To get in touch, please call our team on 0344 967 2505 or send an email to [email protected]

by Jacqui Pearce
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