A wider range of people should ensure they have lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) - not just the elderly - Justice Minister Lord McNally said today.
The minister made the call as he announced plans for the whole LPA application process to be moved online for the first time, making it simpler, clearer and faster for people of all ages to apply.
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 physical or mental capacity in the future. The vast majority of the 700,000 LPAs currently registered in the UK (94 per cent) are for over 60s, with almost half for over 80s, and the Government wants to make sure more people have one in place.
Justice Minister Lord McNally said:
“Making a Lasting Power of Attorney is as important as making a will – it can save people unnecessary trauma and expense and makes sure their own wishes are followed whatever happens. It is crucial for people of all ages, yet very few under 60s have one registered and we need that to change.
“By putting the LPA application process online and cutting the cost we are making it cheaper, simpler and faster to apply – we are making that possible and helping hard working people with the cost of living at the same time.”
The plans were announced as the next stage in the programme for transforming the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), which runs the LPA scheme.
They are part of a consultation which includes proposals for:
- Fully digitising the LPA application process.
- Simplifying the forms and application process for LPAs.
- Improving supervision of those appointed to manage people’s affairs.
- Reviewing the information provided in searches of the LPA register.
The digital application process will retain all the safeguards needed to protect people’s interests. They would be able to use the service by themselves or, if they are not confident with the process, with the help of a third party - for example, a friend or family member or a professional such as a solicitor. Paper applications will still be accepted.
Alan Eccles, the Public Guardian, said:
“More and more people are taking the important decision to apply for Lasting Power of Attorney and it is right they receive the best possible service.
“We are continually looking to improve our service. By creating a fully digital process for creating and registering Lasting Powers of Attorney we will make it simpler, clearer and faster for the public.”
The consultation will run for six weeks and the changes are expected to be introduced in 2014. The plans follow the recent reduction of the fee for an LPA application from £130 to £110.
Notes to editors:
- View the consultation
- The number of people taking out Lasting Power of Attorney has increased significantly in recent years, with 152,335 registered in 2010/11 and 182,567 in 2011/12.
- For more information about the Office of the Public Guardian, including forms and details about Lasting Power of Attorney.
- For more information, please call the Ministry of Justice press office on 020 3334 3536. Follow us on twitter @MoJGovUK.