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The government has unveiled an online service designed to improve the lasting power of attorney process, making it simpler for individuals to act on behalf of their loved ones.
The new system, known as “Use a lasting power of attorney”, was announced by the Office of Public Guardian (OPG) last week. It replaces the current paper-based process that requires individuals to request and confirm documents that are then posted as physical copies.
A lasting power of attorney allows someone, while they still have full mental capacity, to nominate a trusted friend or relative to make decisions on their behalf if the need arises. People acting as an attorney will now be able to submit a secure code online to confirm their identity. They will then be authorised to take decisions on, for example, banking, care and property.
The OPG emphasised that the new system would keep existing checks to protect the vulnerable and elderly from abuse.
Nick Goodwin, public guardian for England and Wales, said: “More people are taking the important step to plan for the future and apply for a lasting power of attorney, and we want to make sure those they entrust with making vital decisions on their behalf receive the very best possible support.
“Our new digital service will ensure attorneys can make effective and efficient decisions when managing their loved ones’ affairs – without the delays paper-based services can cause.”
He added that the move was part of a drive towards a wider transformation process at the OPG that would incorporate wider use of technology.
According to the FT Adviser website, the number of people signing over financial control has risen in 2020, with more than 200,000 powers of attorney submitted in the first quarter of the year.
That uptick in numbers has brought with it increased reports of misuse, however. Statistics show that, the Office of Public Guardian made 721 applications to the Court of Protection to remove or censure LPAs in 2018/19; 55 per cent more than the previous year and a record high.
The new system can be accessed here. It has been available to newly registered LPAs since last week and officials say they are now working on extending it to already registered LPAs.