Power of attorney when planning for loved ones to be available online


The body set up to protect people who lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions is to be given a digital facelift.

Lasting Power of Attorney

A new government initiative will enable the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) to offer secure online access to Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for applicants seeking to manage their loved ones' long-term affairs.

The OPG assists registration of LPAs and of Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA), along with the supervision of deputies appointed by the Court of Protection. The office also helps attorneys and deputies to carry out their duties.

Working with the Government Digital Service, the office will develop online provision of LPAs, permitting faster, easier access to Lasting Power of Attorney than the present paper-based system.

Safeguards essential to protecting people's interests will remain in place, while individuals will be able to use the service themselves or with the help of 3rd parties such as solicitors.

The OPG's 'digital facelift' is expected to enable the office to handle future workloads more efficiently while delivering the best possible services. Ministers hope that individuals will be better placed to make decisions and plan for any future threat of diminished mental capacity.

Explaining that the government's goal is to support those people who face what can be an emotionally-charged process, the justice minister, Jonathan Djanogly, said: "These proposals… are another example of the smart, common sense changes being made throughout the justice system to create a better, more effective service for the public."

Underpinning much of the OPG's work is the Mental Capacity Act 2005, a key provision of which is the statutory framework empowering and protecting people who lack capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Noting the rise in applications on behalf of such individuals for Lasting Powers of Attorney, the Public Guardian, Alan Eccles, said the OPG's aim was to deliver a service that is effective, straightforward and easy to use.

"The proposed new online application process will make applying simpler and quicker," said Mr Eccles, "while changes we plan to make in the 'back-office' will make the whole service more efficient."

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