There are over five million registered Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) in England and Wales. And this number has increased considerably over the last few years. However, there is concern that the process for making an LPA is slow and outdated. As a result, the Ministry of Justice has launched a consultation on how to modernise the process for making a Lasting Power of Attorney.
| What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
An LPA is a legal document which allows someone to appoint a person (known as their attorney) to make decisions about their health, welfare, money or property. They are often used by people concerned about losing capacity in older age. But, in fact, you can use them at any age, for example if you are ill or in an accident.
An LPA is an extremely important and potentially powerful document. It is vital that people use them cautiously and, ideally, with specialist advice.
| How do I make an LPA?
Using the current procedure, an LPA must be written and then signed and witnessed. A ‘certificate provider’ must then sign to confirm that the person making the LPA understands it and is under no undue pressure to make the LPA. This certificate provider is essentially an independent judge of the person’s mental capacity. Preferably they would be a solicitor or your doctor, but they can be someone you have known well for over two years.
The next stage is to send the paper LPA to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) for registration. This does not have to happen immediately, but you must register the LPA before you can use it. The OPG processes and checks the LPA, and this process can take quite a long time.
| How does the Government propose to modernise the Lasting Power of Attorney process?
The Government is considering how technology could work to simplify and speed up the process. However, it is concerned to keep the safeguards that are currently in place for those making LPAs (e.g. ensuring no fraud or coercion). Other suggestions include:
- Changing the way we witness LPAs.
- Requiring registration of the LPA as soon as the LPA is executed.
- Widening the OPG’s remit to carry out identification checks and other safeguarding checks.
- Requiring the OPG to provide an expedited registration service based upon the person’s severity of need.
- A ‘solicitor portal’ meaning that solicitors can apply for registration online.
| The consultation process
The consultation runs until the end of October 2021. At that stage, the Government will consider the responses and whether to make any changes.
At Levi Solicitors, we believe that LPAs are an important tool in planning for your future. However, they must be made correctly, and (ideally) with specialist legal advice. While we would welcome a modernisation of the process, there must be sufficient safeguards in place to protect those making LPAs. We do not want a situation where safeguards are so minimal that people can take advantage of their (often elderly) relatives or friends.
If you would like to make an LPA, please contact our team on 0800 988 7756. We charge a fixed fee for our LPAs.