Have you got your Lasting Powers of Attorney sorted?

Have you got your Lasting Powers of Attorney sorted?

The digital revolution has almost reached the administration of lasting powers of attorney (LPA).

Picture the scene: You’ve got all your ducks in a row, and your LPA is sitting beside your Will. This will simplify matters considerably for your family. But have you actually?

Without a will, your estate will automatically be distributed under the laws of intestacy, which might not match you (or your family’s) wishes. And if you can’t manage your own affairs due to illness, then without an appropriate LPA, the Court of Protection will be your family’s first port of call to make decisions on your behalf. This can be an expensive and slow process.

In England and Wales, the LPA process is dealt with by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). It’s been a heavily paper-based system, but over the years technology use has been increasing. Now, you can prepare an LPA for property and financial affairs and/or health and welfare matters online (https://www.lastingpowerofattorney.service.gov.uk/lpa/type). These LPAs are basic, government-drafted documents, and so you may prefer to use a solicitor to include specific provisions that the standard issue version doesn’t contain.

No matter how your LPA is prepared, it can’t be used until it’s registered. While in theory registration can be delayed until your attorney needs to act on your behalf, in practice it’s best to register your LPA as soon as it has been completed. That involves signing the document and sending the paperwork to the OPG (with a fee of £82 per LPA). The OPG says that it takes “up to 20 weeks” to register an LPA, provided there are no mistakes in the application. So it’s safe to say it’s not painless.

Thankfully, the Powers of Attorney Act 2023, which received Royal Assent in September, paves the way for LPA registration to be completed online (as is currently possible in Scotland with powers of attorney). (The paper option will also remain available.)

While this is great news, if you don’t have an LPA, then do not let the passing of the Act be an excuse to carry on without one until the technology is in place. Even the Chief Executive of the OPG says “…it’s important to recognise that we’ve still got a long way to go.” You – and your family – could need an LPA long before that journey is over.

Footnote: In October, the Law Commission launched a consultation on allowing wills in England and Wales to be made and stored in electronic form.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate will writing, estate planning and power of attorney advice.

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