A new bill, named the Powers of Attorney bill has just received royal assent on 19th September 2023, initially brought before Parliament in June 2022. This new act is now named the Powers of Attorney Act 2023 and brings a number of changes to the current procedure.
The aim of the act is to modernise and simplify the current process and to protect donors from abuse and potential fraudulent documents.
The demand for documents to be digital is ever increasing and even more so since the effects of the pandemic. You can currently apply for probate online and many applications relating to the Land Registry can also be submitted online, however the process of applying for a power of attorney seems to have been left behind in the digital world. The effect of this act, it is hoped, will result in a simpler more streamlined service.
According to the Office of Public Guardian (OPG) figures, in the year 2022 there were 777,741 registered applications for LPAs. It is currently taking a minimum of five months for these applications to be processed if not longer. The current process of obtaining lasting powers of attorney includes downloading and/or printing the necessary forms, signing and witnessing the same on paper, and sending the completed forms to the OPG for registration with the relevant fee. The paper document is returned registered, and this is then retained by the donor until the requirement to use it.
One of the first changes that has been made is who is authorised to register the lasting power of attorney. Currently the donor or the attorneys can do this, the act now only gives the donor permission.
Donors will now need to provide identification which will be verified by the Office of Public Guardian. They will provide guidance on what types of identification will be required, and if they are not satisfied or the criteria has not been met the lasting power of attorney may not be registered.
The act will also allow not only people named in the LPA to make objections to the registration of the document but also third parties.
One of the most useful changes is that for any LPA registered in electronic form to be evidence of its content and fact of registration. For people who do not wish to use the document in it’s electronic form it makes provision for both electronic forms and paper alternatives to both be used.
This act is an extremely welcome update to the LPA process both for the public to submit applications themselves or for professionals. It is unclear as to how long it will take for the changes to come into effect, but it will provide more security and safeguarding against the risk of lasting powers of attorney being misused.
Please take a look at our other blogs as to why making a power of attorney is so important and why it is always beneficial to seek legal advice from a solicitor.