News / Estate Planning

Will Lasting Powers of Attorney go digital?

Ensuring that your affairs are properly managed if you become unable to look after them yourself is an important step when getting your finances in order. But the paper-based process of setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney is beginning to feel outdated. Steve Wright, our Estates Director, considers new government proposals to introduce a digital option.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) were introduced in 2007 creating a legal process in which you can nominate a friend or relative to look after your affairs if you lose the ability to do so yourself. The government is now planning to make the process of setting up an LPA much quicker, simpler and easier by introducing a digital framework to create and sign these documents.

The proposals, called ‘Modernising Lasting Powers of Attorney’, explain how technology could replace the existing paper-based application process and speed up the service. Introducing a digital system would also help combat fraud and abuse, by increasing checks and safeguards. The key changes being proposed include:

Simplifying the process and current objection period – it’s currently taking a lengthy 20 weeks to register an LPA, including a three-week objection period. The new proposals would allow immediate digital checks as soon as the LPA is registered, and objections would be made sooner and closer to when the LPA was signed, so the whole process should be quicker. The proposals also suggest that anyone with an objection should be able to raise it at any point from when the LPA is created to when it’s registered; at the moment only the donor, attorneys and persons named in the LPA can do so within the three-week window.

Remote signing and witnessing – currently any LPA must be witnessed in person when you sign your copy. The proposal is that LPAs will be electronic documents which are signed and witnessed remotely, removing the need for physical in-person signing.

Increased fraud protection – new identity checks could be introduced as part of the set-up process to help remove the opportunity for abuse of the system.

LPAs are an important tool when it comes to estate planning, giving peace of mind to many people and their families. The restrictions which have been in place in the UK and elsewhere in the last 18 months have really highlighted the need for a digital system for LPAs, and there’s a real sense that the process needs to better fit the modern world. These proposals go a long way to making it much easier and safer to set up an LPA and should also make the process of objecting simpler too.

The consultation is scheduled to run until 13 October. For help with any aspect of estate planning, including Lasting Powers of Attorney, please get in touch.