It will be easier and simpler for people to make sure their wishes are followed if their mental capacity declines, thanks to improvements to the lasting powers of attorney (LPA) application process, announced by Justice Minister Simon Hughes today.
The process, run by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), will retain key safeguards so that choices on life sustaining treatment continue to be made with the utmost care.
Having listened to the views of the public, we are not combining the forms for health and welfare and property and finance. Nor will we be removing the requirement for a signature and witness for the life sustaining treatment section. Other safeguards remain the same, such as the need for an independent witness to sections of the LPA and someone you know certifying that, in their judgment, you have capacity.
New simplified forms will be introduced which will allow people to state when they wish their LPA to come into effect.
Justice Minister Simon Hughes said:
Having lasting powers of attorney is as important as having a will and these changes make it much easier for people to apply for one.
LPAs give people the peace of mind of knowing that if they ever lose capacity, the important decisions about their life can be taken by someone they have chosen and can trust. We are keeping the right safeguards in place to protect the public at what can be a vulnerable time in a person’s life.
The OPG will be launching the redesigned LPA applications by early next year.
The new forms will complement the existing online service which makes it simpler, clearer and faster to apply for LPAs. The tool takes users through each page of the application step-by-step, making sure it is completed correctly before they print it off and submit it.
LPAs are legal documents which allow the applicant to appoint someone they know and trust to make decisions about their health and welfare or financial affairs if they were to lose mental capacity in the future. The vast majority of the over 1 million LPAs currently registered with OPG (94%) are for over 60s, with almost half for over 80s, and the government wants to make sure more people have one in place.
Following a public consultation – Transforming the services of the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG): Enabling Digital by Default – several improvements are being put into place:
Introducing LPA forms that are easier to complete and encourage people to say when they wish their LPA to come into effect. There will continue to be separate forms for health and welfare and property and finance issues
Extending the range of cases for which a reduced application fee applies to include applications which have to be made to the Court of Protection.
Continuing to put in place a new model for the supervision of court-appointed deputies that offers proportionate monitoring and support to different deputy types.
The government will also not introduce a fully digital LPA at this time and will consult with the public before any further plans are brought forward.
Notes to editors
Transforming the services of the Office of the Public Guardian - enabling digital by default was published on 15 October 2013 and ended 26 November.
The number of applications for lasting powers of attorney has increased significantly in recent years, with 200,000 in 2011 to 2012, 242,000 in 2012 to 2013 and 295,000 in 2013 to 2014.
More information about the Office of the Public Guardian including forms and details about lasting powers of attorney.
For more information, call the Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536. Follow us on twitter @MoJGovUK.