For those of you who are unaware of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) and the potential importance of this legal document as part of your overall financial plan, I would refer you to my previous article on the subject. In simple terms, an LPA is a legal document that allows another person (the Attorney) to act on an individual’s (the Donor’s) behalf through important decision making and is particularly useful where the Donor loses the capacity to do so themselves.
In order for the document to be invoked, the Donor or Attorney will need to provide evidence of a valid LPA being in place to all relevant parties involved in the decision. In recent times it has become somewhat an issue trying to provide satisfactory evidence of a valid LPA. With workforces working remotely, but, often requiring a physical copy of the valid LPA, ensuring that the LPA falls into the hands of someone who can correctly authenticate the document and that the documentation is handled and guarded as securely as it ought, has become a lengthy and difficult process.
Fortunately the Office of the Public Guardian has introduced a new online service to help alleviate some of the strain caused by this issue. Donors and Attorneys of newly registered LPAs in England or Wales will be issued with an activation key which will allow them to create an online account. The Donor or Attorney will then be able to delegate access to an online summary of the LPA through the issuance of online access codes to third parties.
The service is available to those LPAs that were established from the 17th of July 2020 onwards, but, with over four million registered LPAs already in place, it is not currently possible to make this service available to everyone in the short term. Plans are in place however, to make this facility accessible to those with LPAs registered before this date, although no set timelines have been put in place for this. This will likely be a gradual roll out, but, the intention is to have all registered LPAs benefit from this service automatically, so no further application will be required.
This is a largely positive development for Attorneys and Donors, and will hopefully reduce both the time intensive nature of the process and the costs associated with maintaining documents and having solicitors provide copies. With the importance and sometimes time sensitive nature of these documents and their associated purpose, it is great to see that rather than relying on a postal service that may take weeks, we can now resort to online means which may take days or even just hours. Of course the true benefit of this development will be seen once it has been fully implemented.