On the 20th July, the Government announced brief plans to modernise the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) system in the UK.
There are two types of LPA. One protects an individual’s property and finances enabling someone to appoint help with investments, selling property, operating bank accounts, paying bills and sorting out state benefits if they became unable to do so or would prefer someone to act for them. The other allows someone to appoint an attorney to make health & welfare decisions if they were not able to, examples being to decide where the person lives, the type of care they receive and to consent or refuse life sustaining treatment on their behalf.
Currently, to register an LPA, there is a paper-based application system that is often described as slow and difficult to use. It is expected that these new proposals will propel the system into the 21st century by making the process predominantly digital as well as offering a fast-track option for families to quickly set up LPAs if they are needed.
Last time the LPA system was overhauled it replaced the Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) system. At the time of this reform, the new process introduced checks and balances as there was concern that they were being used unsolicited by unscrupulous attorneys. There are some concerns that this new system, by introducing the use of digital signatures, might again be prone to abuse and undermine the very people that LPAs are meant to protect.
One of the hopes is that this new system will speed up the process, with current registration times being 20 weeks from submission. However, the recently digitalised Probate Registry introduced an online submission process using digital signatures it has not improved the timeframe for obtaining Grants of Representation to estates.
Hopefully, it will not be more of the same and it will be interesting to see further detail of what the Government proposes. We now must wait and see as the three-month consultation process of this modernised system begins.
To talk to a local lawyer about Lasting Powers of Attorney and to find out whether you or a relative should have them, call and speak to Deborah Abbott at Holmes & Hills Solicitors on 01787 275275 or email her email@example.com.