Date posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Following the launch, in July this year, of a new digital tool which enables customers to complete the majority of the lasting power of attorney (LPA) process online; the Ministry of Justice has now launched a consultation which explores the implications of moving the entire process of applying for a LPA online.
However, the proposals are likely to be met with some resistance unless an acceptable way of signing digital documents that guarantees security and confidentiality can be found. Options put forward in the consultation document include changing the law so that powers of attorney are no longer deeds that must be signed and witnessed and introducing an identity verification process whereby the various parties will have their identities verified online by an accredited third party.
The proposals, which are part of a wider plan to improve access to powers of attorney, are subject to a consultation that ends on 26 November. However, delivery of a fully digital method of creating and registering LPAs will require primary legislation and this part of the program is therefore unlikely to be implemented in the near future.
The number of people taking out Lasting Power of Attorney has increased significantly in recent years, with 152,335 registered in 2010/11 and 182,567 in 2011/12 (Source: Ministry of Justice); however, almost half of these are for over 80s. The idea behind the latest proposals is that an online process will be cheaper and easier and will encourage a wider range of people to put a LPA in place.