Andrew Campbell from our Wills, Probate & inheritance team explains how …
The Office of the Public Guardian (“OPG”) have launched a new digital service to help attorneys prove that a lasting power of attorney exists to healthcare providers, banks and other relevant organisations.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”) is a legal document that allows an individual to appoint someone else (an attorney) to make decisions about their welfare, money or property. They are often used by people who want to choose someone they trust to make decisions for them if they lose capacity in the future.
Currently banks and other relevant organisations are required to authenticate paper copies of LPAs before they will allow attorneys to act on the donor’s behalf, such as withdraw funds from a donor’s bank account. In order for the bank to authenticate an LPA the attorney has to obtain a certified paper copy of the LPA, send it to the bank in the post and then wait to receive confirmation that the LPA has been authenticated. The timescale for this process can usually take around a couple of weeks.
The OPG’s new digital service aims to shorten the amount of time it takes for interested organisations to authenticate LPAs.
Once the LPA has been registered the attorneys and donors will be sent an activation key from the OPG. This key will allow attorneys and donors to create an online account and add the LPA to that account. They can then create an access code which they can give to any interested organisation such as a bank. The organisation will then be able to view an online summary of the LPA. This new service maintains the existing checks in order for organisations to confirm if someone has the legal right to act as an attorney.
The introduction of this digital service is a welcome change as it will make it easier and quicker for attorneys to use a LPA. By dramatically reducing the timescale for authentication it will mean attorneys will be able to easily confirm their authority to act which in turn will result in a better customer experience.
Donors and attorneys with LPAs registered from the 17th July 2020 will be able to use the online service. The OPG plans to open up the service to LPAs that were registered earlier in 2020 and some for 2019. There has not been any announcement related to opening the service up to LPAs that were registered before 2019, however the OPG have said they are looking at how this could be done.
If you would like any more information about the issues raised in this article please contact our Wills, Probate & Inheritance team on 01228 514077.