You may remember back in 2017 the Law Commission published a consultation paper on modernising succession law. Well now Lasting Powers of Attorney are receiving the same treatment with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and Ministry of Justice working together to modernise LPAs. The consultation is open to the public and those who have been involved in the creation and/or use of LPAs.
Since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic engagement with digital services and a desire for access to more services digitally has skyrocketed. We have seen this in our own industry with emergency legislation being introduced to allow for wills to be validly witnessed remotely to overcome social distancing restrictions, and up acceptance of electronic signatures for certain probate and land registry forms.
Before LPA services can be brought into the modern age by digitising appropriate safeguards for the Donor need to be put in place. The consultation aims to address some of the issues raised with LPAs concerning their complexity and increase safeguards for the Donor. The proposals suggest methods of improving the way in which LPAs are made and registered.
The consultation paper proposes changes to how and when a person can object to the registration of an LPA, widening the OPGs remit so they have more power to halt a registration to address concerns about an LPA. In terms of improving the registration process they are looking at methods of speeding up the service and whether a dedicated faster service should be introduced for urgent applications; this is something we find members ask for frequently.
A further proposal for streamlining the service is to integrate any new digital system for making and registering LPAs with solicitor’s own case management systems. The paper also mentions extending this to charities and other organisations that support the creation of LPAs.
The main benefit of these proposals would be making LPAs more accessible to individuals. This is very similar to the proposed benefits of modernising the law of wills discussed previously. Any change that makes LPAs more accessible should be welcome as the more people who take up this important document the better.
The consultation is open until 13th October 2021. The consultation paper detailing the proposals and information on how to respond can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/modernising-lasting-powers-of-attorney