UK parliament passes Bill enabling digital LPA procedures
The legislation was introduced as a private members' Bill in 2022 with the full support of the government, following a consultation in 2021. That process had determined that primary legislation was needed to bring a fully digital lasting power of attorney (LPA) into operation.
The Bill will accordingly amend the Mental Capacity Act 2005 to make several substantial changes to the procedure for making LPAs in England and Wales, in particular enabling the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) to introduce a new digital process, alongside an improved paper application system.
According to the Ministry of Justice, the Bill will ease the processes for making and registering LPAs and for individuals to obtain certified copies of powers of attorney (POAs) in England and Wales. It introduces requirements to verify identity as part of applying to register an LPA, ensuring that only the donor can apply to register. It also streamlines how people can object to the registration, although the class of persons who can object will be widened to include third parties not named in the LPA. It also enables different processes and evidence to be accepted, depending on if an LPA is made digitally, on paper or a mix of the two.
The Ministry of Justice says that this will make it easier for donors to create an LPA at the same time as being better protected from abuse. The public will be better protected from fraud and the OPG will be able to run a more streamlined process that delivers better value for its fee payers because of the automation of its administrative processes. Overall, it will allow more individuals to retain control of their lives by planning for their future, the Ministry of Justice says.
It is not yet known exactly when the Bill will come into force, but the OPG says it is already working on the design of the digital LPA system and user testing. The new system will be 'easier, quicker and more convenient' as well as improving protections against fraud, it says said. The OPG is working closely with the Ministry of Justice to prepare the changes to secondary legislation that will be needed to implement the new service.
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