As new laws surrounding Lasting Powers of Attorney come into force in the UK, allowing people to make theirs entirely online, our team of experienced private client solicitors consider some of the implications that this move is likely to have, including how you might be affected if either you do not make one, or it is invalid.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows an individual to allocate someone they trust to make important health and financial decisions on their behalf if they can no longer do so themselves. Typically, the appointed attorney is a family member or close friend, but you have the flexibility to choose anyone over 18 who is willing to take on the role. In some instances, you may opt to appoint a professional, such as a solicitor.

To establish an LPA, you must be over the age of 18 and possess mental capacity at the time of its creation. Although not often considered by young people, creating an LPA as soon as possible is sensible as it ensures that if you lose mental capacity suddenly, your wishes will be fulfilled.

New Laws for LPAs

The reform to modernise the LPA creation process entered the statute books at the end of September 2023 when the Powers of Attorney Act received royal assent.

Digitising the creation and registration of Lasting Powers of Attorneys in the UK aims to assist in spotting errors earlier and allowing them to be amended online, rather than waiting for documents to be posted back and forth between the applicant and the Office of the Public Guardian, who is currently taking up to 20 weeks on average to process an LPA application, 12 weeks longer than its target.

Justice minister Mike Freer said, ‘This act allows us to modernise the service, introduce new safeguards from fraud and abuse, and make it simpler to give people peace of mind their interests will be protected.’

Although this reform has been widely welcomed and is supported by the Law Society, some concern remains.

With 1.5 million UK homes still without internet access and the online system utilised by the government deemed ‘complicated and difficult to use’, paper processes remain accessible. President of the Law Society, Lubna Shuja, said, ‘it is critical that people are given a genuine choice and that the service does not become digital by default’.

What happens if I don’t have an LPA?

Although many people often assume that lack of mental capacity only relates to old age or those suffering from dementia, anyone can lose mental capacity due to accident or illness.

If you lose mental capacity and do not have an LPA, there are several implications, including:

  • You will no longer be able to decide who makes decisions for you.
  • People you do not know could end up making crucial decisions for you, such as whether to accept life-sustaining treatment.
  • Your loved ones may have to apply to the Court of Protection to make decisions on your behalf.

It can be emotionally overwhelming to take the initial step and commence with creating a Lasting Power of Attorney; however, planning for the future can help to put your mind at ease, knowing that you are prepared for whatever lies ahead and ultimately relieving unnecessary stress that may befall your family and friends.

Solicitor for LPA Creation

Now that it is possible to create your Lasting Power of Attorney online, it will be tempting to do so without the support of a legal professional. This is not advisable.

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is currently developing an online system to be used by solicitors and other legal professionals. In the meantime, we recommend still contacting your lawyer, should you want to write and implement your LPA, rather than doing so yourself online.

Failure to properly draft and execute your Lasting Power of Attorney may mean that your wishes are not fulfilled when required. Read about why you and your spouse need to create Lasting Powers of Attorney here.

At Beverley Morris & Co., we have over 15 years of experience in supporting clients across Blackheath, Lewisham and South East London in writing their health and welfare and property and finance LPAs.

To speak to a member of our experienced team today, please call 020 8852 4433 or email Alternatively, please fill in this contact form.

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