Digital by Default – a review of Lasting Powers of Attorney

Katherine Jordan

Katherine Jordan

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) published a consultation about how it intends to fully digitise the process for creating and registering LPAs. The consultation period ended on 26 November 2013 and it is expected that the MOJ will make a final decision in 2014 on whether legislation to enable the making of a fully digital LPA should be made.

The purpose of the new online service is to save time when completing the forms and help to avoid some common errors. Proposals for the online service include:

  • The ability to complete forms to create LPAs for property and financial affairs and for health and welfare. A proposal is to make a combined form for both property and financial LPAs and Health and Welfare LPAs
  • Removal of physical signatures
  • Dispense with a second certificate provider
  • Print notices of intention to register an LPA
  • Pay the registration fee online

I am very wary that a number of the proposals will provide opportunities for fraud, duress and financial abuse. I take the matter of undue influence and capacity very seriously and believe that the suggested digital LPAs fly in the face of this. Meeting a donor of an LPA face to face is an important safeguard. How many elderly and frail people are computer literate. How easy would it be for an unscrupulous family member to complete the form in their own favour.

A further concern is that the Office of the Public Guardian (the office that deals with the registration and supervision of LPAs) is not authorised to give legal advice. I consider that when creating a powerful legal document such as a LPA it is important that legal advice is sought so that the most suitable arrangement is achieved. Those who want to use the online services to complete the LPA documents will do so at their own risk.

The Law Society has published its ‘strong reservations’ in its response to the MOJ’s consultation paper.

The Wills and Probate Department at Blacks can advise you about LPAs. If you are making or updating a Will it is worth considering setting up an LPA. I would be happy to assist you in implementing an LPA.

Katherine Jordan
Private Client Department
0113 227 9231

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