Powers of Attorney Bill 2023

The Powers of Attorney Bill 2023 had its second reading in the House of Lords on 16 June 2023. Currently, the process for making a lasting power of attorney is largely paper-based. The Powers of Attorney Bill 2023 is a private members bill which will introduce significant changes to the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Its aim will be to make the process of making Lasting Powers of Attorney (or LPAs) simpler, easier to access and less susceptible to fraud or abuse.

Currently the Office of the Public Guardian (or OPG), which deals with the registration of LPAs, is struggling with the volume of work it is required to process. Pre-Covid, registration took approximately 10 weeks, although the OPG’s target is 8 weeks. Since then turnaround times have suffered badly and there is a large backlog of work. It now takes in the region of 20-24 weeks to register an LPA, which is far from ideal when affected families are left waiting to pay care home fees and other bills for their loved ones. Changes to make the process more efficient are to be welcomed, as long as suitable safeguards remain in place to protect the interests of the donor.

Specifically, the changes proposed in the Powers of Attorney Bill 2023 include the following: –

  • Currently, either the donor or the attorneys may register an LPA. Under the new rules, only the donor themselves will be able to apply for registration. This makes sense because LPAs should be registered routinely as soon as they are made.
  • The donor, the attorneys and the certificate provider will be able to choose whether to sign the LPA digitally or on paper, or using a combination of the two methods. Experience tells me that this will be very useful, as many families I see these days have one or more adult children living abroad, and the current paper-based process can make it extremely slow and cumbersome to collect their signatures to confirm that they will be happy to act as their parents’ attorneys.
  • New identification requirements will be introduced in order to strengthen the safeguards against fraud, and those involved in the registration process will need to have their identities checked, for example by producing a driving licence or passport.
  • The group of people entitled to raise objections to registration will be broadened to include those not named in the LPA itself, such as a concerned family friend or neighbour, for example. In future, objections may be raised at any point after the Office of the Public Guardian becomes aware that the donor intends to make an LPA, rather than only during the four-week statutory waiting period in the registration process, as at present.
  • Finally, in future chartered legal executives will ibe allowed to certify copies of LPAs.
Lasting Powers of Attorney Bill 2023

More generally, whilst the system will become digital, fortunately a paper-based option will also remain available for those who do not use the Internet or who prefer to work on paper. The process and evidence required will vary depending on whether an LPA is made digitally or on paper.

Chiltern Wills is a Will writing business based in Beaconsfield and run by former London solicitor, Rebecca D’Arcy. Call us on 01494 708688 or email info@chilternwills.com for a free initial chat about how we can help with making your Will or Lasting Powers of Attorney.

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