The New Powers of Attorney Bill UK: Changes on the Horizon

The United Kingdom is set to witness significant changes in the Powers of Attorney landscape, with the introduction of a new bill. Estimated to come into effect around Autumn 2024, this legislation brings several noteworthy alterations that will affect both legal professionals and individuals seeking to create Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs). In this article, we will explore the key provisions of the New Powers of Attorney Bill UK and how they might impact various aspects of the LPA process.

1. Marketing Strategies in the Face of DIYers

Alisha Rogers, Private Client Executive, highlights the need for law firms to market their services effectively, especially in competition with the rising trend of DIY LPAs. Additionally, creative marketing strategies that emphasise the importance of professional assistance in assessing the trustworthiness and suitability of chosen attorneys can set firms apart from those advocating a DIY approach.

2. Streamlined ID Checks

The bill proposes streamlining the identification (ID) checks for LPAs. According to the new regulations, ID checks will focus only on the donor and the certificate provider. This simplifies the process for law firms preparing LPAs on their clients’ behalf, as they may not need to upload the donor’s ID when they already conduct their own checks. Moreover, the view is that attorneys will be responsible for performing their ID checks when using the LPA.

Concerns were raised about the suitability checks on attorneys, but it was determined that donors have the right to make unwise decisions. However, firms can still enquire with the donor about the trustworthiness and suitability of their chosen attorney, providing an additional layer of security.

3. Certifying LPA’s and Office Copies

Chartered Legal Executives are now authorised to certify copies of LPAs, a change that has been eagerly anticipated. However, it’s essential to note that this provision has not yet come into force.

The bill also addresses an issue in the current law related to the provision of office copies when the original LPA is lost. With LPAs being digitalised, it is expected that the electronic format will suffice. However, concerns remain regarding older copies, which are under investigation.

4. Registration Process

Under the new regulations, only the donor can register an LPA. Registration will occur when the LPA is created, preventing complications when an individual loses capacity. There are ongoing discussions about addressing LPA registrations with the “loss of capacity” box already ticked.

Registration fees will be paid by the donor or on their behalf before the certificate provider and attorneys sign the document. It is expected that this process will be facilitated through an online portal.

5. Handling Objections

Any objections to LPA registration will now need to be reported to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) rather than to both the OPG and the Court of Protection (COP). This change aims to safeguard against fraudulent applications by allowing 3rd parties to raise concerns with the OPG before registration.

6. Rectification Before Registration

The bill is likely to allow for rectification before registration but only in relation to execution issues.

7. Notified Persons

The OPG will now be responsible for notifying specified individuals, relieving the donor or their representatives of this task. Digital notifications will be preferred whenever possible. Additionally, only the donor can decide to dispense with notification to a named person.

8. Other Important Points

LPAs will continue to be considered as Deeds, maintaining their legal significance. Witnesses in the LPA process will be replaced with safeguards. Furthermore, the legislation is designed to accommodate different levels of digital engagement among all parties involved.

9. How the Process Will Work

For the donor, the process involves setting up an account with two-factor authentication, completing Form 1, and providing their ID and fee payment. The donor then signs the document, which triggers a text message to the certificate provider with a verification code, satisfying the witness requirement. Form 2 is sent to the certificate provider for review and signing, with the option to decline acting as the certificate provider. The donor is informed when Form 2 is completed, and Form 3 is sent to the attorneys for their signatures.

Professionals will have access to case worker profiles, reusable IDs for professional certificate providers, the ability to pay and register on behalf of the donor, and automatic population of details for multiple LPAs. Additionally, guidance will be personalised and provided for each person involved in the process.

As these regulations become more solidified and are agreed upon, it is advisable for legal professionals to undergo training to ensure they can navigate the new LPA landscape effectively. The upcoming changes in the Powers of Attorney Bill UK are poised to streamline and modernise the process, enhancing accessibility and security for individuals creating LPAs.