The full text of the Bill to implement the Government’s plans to reform the law on making lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) in England and Wales has been published and has received its second reading in Parliament.
In previous bulletins we have reported on the modernisation of LPAs, focusing mainly on the idea of creating a digital service to process LPAs. Following the consultation last year, a Private Member’s Bill was introduced by Stephen Metcalfe MP which has been published recently.
The Powers of Attorney Bill will allow the following:
- Allow regulations to provide for different ways to make an LPA depending on whether this is done digitally or on paper, or a mix of the two.
- Ensure only the donor can apply to register the LPA.
- Provide for regulations to set out identity verification requirements that must be met for an application to register an LPA to be accepted.
- Require the Office of the Public Guardian to notify the parties when an application to register an LPA is complete and the registration process is starting.
- Enable the Office of the Public Guardian to operate a triage system for certain types of objection.
- Widen the group of people who can lodge an objection, so that it includes third parties not named in the LPA.
- Provide for new forms of evidence of the LPA to be created and accepted and for the electronic form of the LPA as registered to be evidence of the LPA.
The Bill will further amend s.3 of the Powers of Attorney Act 1971 to enable chartered legal executives to certify copies of powers of attorney. Currently, certified copies can be signed only by the donor, a solicitor, a notary or a stockbroker.
The Bill will be scrutinised to ensure that the moves to secure the benefits of digitalisation do not inadvertently exclude any of those who might benefit from being able to execute an LPA.
Making LPAs easier to create, and modernising the way in which individuals can access the service, may encourage more people to think about creating an LPA. This can only be a good thing for the industry, as these are vital for allowing families to be able to deal with the affairs of people who can no longer do it for themselves. It also allows opportunities to improve safeguards against fraud, abuse and undue pressure on the most vulnerable of individuals.
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