LPAs set to lead digital revolution

The government has earmarked Lasting Power of Attorney applications as a key part of a new strategy to transform its services.

In its Digital Strategy, the Ministry of Justice set out its vision for transforming services by working “smarter”. The strategy says a digital by default approach will enable it to deliver solutions that are “simpler, easier to use and better value for users and the government”.

It adds: “Delivering digital services that people prefer to use allows us to dedicate alternatives like phone helplines to those who really need them, while reducing demand on these higher-cost channels”.

The department will launch what it calls four “exemplar” projects in 2013 as part of the strategy, including the planned introduction of online applications for Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) in April.

An LPA enables someone to appoint a trusted person to make decisions on their behalf when they lose capacity to do so for themselves. The person making the LPA can appoint the same person or different people to make decisions on their finances and/or on their health and welfare.

According to Ministry of Justice figures, around 200,000 people a year apply to register a Lasting Power of Attorney. At the moment, applications can only be made on paper and have to be posted.

With the current time for registering an LPA running at nine weeks, this initiative should hopefully help to reduce that waiting time. However, people applying in this way will want to be sure the online application system is both user-friendly and secure, as they will be disclosing some sensitive personal information.

Putting an LPA in place is a sensible step for anyone, as a kind of insurance policy – it may never be needed, but is likely to be invaluable if it is. It is certainly worth considering setting up an LPA at the same time as making or updating a will and a legal adviser experienced in this field will be able to help clarify any queries you may have about what’s involved and assist you in implementing an LPA.

For more information on LPAs, please visit our website or contact one of our fee earners.