Power of attorney process set to go online

New legislation paves the way for a fully online service for lasting power of attorney (LPA). The Powers of Attorney Act aims to make the LPA system quicker, easier to access and more secure.

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What is a lasting power of attorney (LPA)?

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a document in which a person (known as the ‘donor’) appoints another person or a number of people (known as ‘attorneys’) to act on their behalf.

There are two types of LPA:

  1. The first relates to property and financial affairs and this enables the attorney(s) to assist with selling any property owned by the donor, managing their bank accounts, paying bills for them and making investments on their behalf.
  2. The second type of LPA is in relation to health and welfare and covers medical decisions, a decision about where the donor lives and decisions regarding the donor personally.  

An LPA for property and financial affairs can be used by the attorney(s) as soon as it is registered if this option is chosen by the donor, although the donor can select that it cannot be used unless they lose mental capacity. An LPA for health and welfare can only be used if the donor is no longer able to make their own decisions.  

Both documents must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before they can be used.

What is the Powers of Attorney Act?

Currently the OPG handles more than 19 million pieces of paper as a result of their offline LPA system. The Powers of Attorney Act, which has just received Royal Assent, aims to bring the existing paper-based process online for the first time.

When introduced, the changes will make the system quicker, easier to access and more secure for the thousands of people who make and rely on a lasting power of attorney every year. The legislation will also strengthen existing fraud protection by allowing checks on the identity of those applying for a lasting power of attorney.

The new online system and the additional safeguards are now being developed by the OPG. Extensive testing will need to be carried out to ensure the process is simple to use, works as intended and is secure. More information on when it will be available will be published by the government in the coming months.

An improved paper process will also be introduced for those unable to use the internet.

Why is the lasting power of attorney process moving online?

The new reforms are based on a Ministry of Justice consultation response in May 2022: Lasting Power of Attorney revamp to improve safety and efficiency.

The number of registered LPAs has increased drastically in recent years to more than 6 million but the process of making one retains many paper-based features that are over 30 years old.

The digitalisation will speed up registration time by picking up errors earlier and allowing them to be fixed online rather than having to wait for documents to be posted back and forth between the applicant and the OPG as currently happens.

See also

What to do when someone dies

What you need to know about lasting power of attorney (LPA)

Find out more

Step forward to online lasting power of attorneys (GOV.UK)

Lasting Power of Attorney revamp to improve safety and efficiency (GOV.UK)


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Publication date

21 September 2023

Any opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and the author alone, and does not necessarily represent that of The Gazette.