New online service to improve Lasting Power of Attorney Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Currently only available for newly registered lasting power of attorneys

The Office of Public Guardian (OPG), has unveiled a new digital ‘Use a lasting power of attorney’ tool. It said that the tool will help those acting as an attorney to contact organisations like banks and healthcare providers more easily.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which allows people to appoint someone else (an attorney) to make decisions about their welfare, money or property.

They are often used by older people to choose someone they know and trust to make decisions for them were they to lose capacity in the future – but can be used by anyone at any age. Nick Goodwin, Public Guardian for England and Wales, said:

“More people are taking the important step to plan for the future and apply for a Lasting Power of Attorney, and we want to make sure those they entrust with making vital decisions on their behalf receive the very best possible support.

“Our new digital service will ensure attorneys can make effective and efficient decisions when managing their loved ones’ affairs – without the delays a paper-based services can cause.”

The current paper-based process can take weeks, as documents need to be requested and confirmed between organisations and individuals, before being posted as physical copies.

The new system will allow those acting as an attorney to provide a secure code. When this is submitted to the online portal it will nearly instantaneously confirm their status as an attorney and the power they hold. Therefore authorising them to take actions on their loved ones’ behalf.

The number of registered LPAs has increased drastically in recent years to more than 4 million, with many taking the important step to plan for the future.

The new tool maintains existing checks, including to confirm whether someone has the legal right to act as an attorney and the powers they may be entitled to – protecting the vulnerable and elderly from abuse of an LPA.

It has been tested by various stakeholders, including the Department for Work and Pensions and HSBC UK, who aim to use it to maintain services to their customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

Maxine Pritchard, head of Financial Inclusion & Vulnerability – HSBC UK Retail, said:

“The ongoing pandemic has brought challenges to us all and we’ve been working hard to ensure our customers, and their care network, are able to get the support they need. We’ve enabled a digital registration of Power of Attorney, removing the need for customers to visit a branch.

“We’re now able to authenticate the document so we know it’s genuine and of course the customer experience is greatly improved.”

The new system, known as ‘Use a lasting power of attorney’ is available to newly registered LPAs and can be accessed at www.gov.uk/opg. The Office of the Public Guardian said that it is working on extending this system to already registered LPAs.