Powers of Attorney Act 2023 – Changes Coming This November
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) were introduced in 2007 as a means to allow an individual (the Donor) to give authority to selected persons (called their Attorneys) to act on their behalf in relation to the management of their financial and personal affairs.
Although the process has changed in various small ways since 2007, the preparation of an LPA has always required a “wet” signature and the completion of a physical document; this is set to change with the Powers of Attorney Act 2023.
The Act received royal assent on 18th September 2023 and has made a number of modifications to the Mental Capacity Act 2005. The most significant of these is the option to prepare an LPA digitally. The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is in the process of developing a new online system, which it hopes will make the creation of LPAs faster, easier and safer for Donors.
The new system will of course need to be subject to rigorous testing, and it remains to be seen what safeguards will be put into place to prevent the abuse of vulnerable persons, which would seem to be an obvious concern when preparing such a powerful document remotely. In particular we know that identity checks for those applying for the LPA will be introduced, which was not a requirement previously.
LPAs can only be used once they have been registered by the OPG, a process that currently takes up to 20 weeks.
It had been possible for a Donor to prepare an LPA, then to either register it immediately or to leave it to the Attorneys to choose when to register it at a later date. The changes under the new Act mean that only the Donor will be authorised to register the document. It has long been best practice to register the document immediately after completion, however it does raise the question as to what the process will be for unregistered documents created before the Act. Presumably these can still be registered by the Attorneys as before, but as with many of the changes we will need to await further guidance.
Finally, the OPG will now take responsibility for the notification of parties named in the LPA during registration, and objections to the registration can be lodged by third parties in addition to those named in the LPA.
The changes are intended to take effect this November
Author – David Harris
If you have any questions or queries relating to these upcoming changes, contact our private client team today: