The Government has accepted a proposal to make it possible to create a lasting power of attorney (LPA) completely online, while saying the existing paper based process will remain as an alternative.
The Ministry of Justice and the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) have announced the move as part of the Government’s response to modernisation proposals for LPAs – legal documents that enable people to appoint someone else to make decisions on their welfare, finances and property.
Currently, while the documents can be filled in online, they have to be printed, signed in front of witnesses and posted to the OPG.
The response says the Government will proceed to integrate a digital LPA channel with document and case management systems, while ensuring there are sufficient powers within the relevant legislation for it to mandate regulated legal professionals to use the digital service in future if required.
The Government has also committed to looking further into technology could be used to replace the witness signing an LPA with a similar function within the digital channel.
But it also says it will retain the option a complete paper process for people who need it.
The proposals have been developed following engagement last year with a range of stakeholders inclduing Age UK, the Law Society, and the National Mental Capacity Forum.
Justice Minister,Tom Pursglove MP said: “A lasting power of attorney provides comfort and reassurance to millions of people that decisions will be made in their best interests should they lose capacity.
“Our reforms will make the system easier to access, simpler and even more secure from fraud. This forms part of our plans to harness technology across government and provide better services to the public.”
The move comes in response to growing sentiment in favour of digitising more legal processes. In July 2020 the OPG launched a digital service for the operation of LPAs once they had been set up.