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Accessible LPA application service launches

New system aims to make the process clearer, faster and accurate

3 July 2013

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The long-awaited first digital service from the Office of the Public Guardian launched yesterday allowing people to register lasting powers of attorney (LPA) more easily.

The move, which was expected in April, comes in response to the consultation Transforming the Services of the Office of the Public Guardian.

The online tool should make the LPA registration process accessible and lead to fewer mistakes after evidence showed almost a fifth of paper applications contained errors.

It will also help deal with increasing demand for taking out an LPA, which has grown by 25 per cent over the last year.

"[It is] the first step in making the whole system simpler, clearer and faster," said Public Guardian Alan Eccles.

The new forms must be printed, signed and posted, but the government has announced its intention to launch a consultation shortly on options to make the process fully digital.

"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," added Eccles.

In a recent interview with Private Client Adviser, Sheree Green, senior associate at Anthony Collins Solicitors, said the move online was a good step overall.

"It will raise the profile and usefulness of this important document, and increase access to powers of attorney for those unable to afford to instruct a solicitor to act on their behalf," she said.

Jenny Kerns, solicitor at Court of Protection specialists Hugh Jones Solicitors, agreed. "Increasing the general public’s direct access to LPA must in the first instance be viewed as a positive step forward in making the whole system simpler, clearer and faster. By promoting accessibility we will hopefully see an increase in the number of LPAs registered," she said.

But both Green and Kerns said it would be interesting to see how the risk issues are managed in practice.

"If you meet an adviser to explore the reasons behind making a power of attorney and the choice of attorney, there are safeguards that are not available to a person sitting in front of their home computer to complete the forms," added Green.

A statement from the Ministry of Justice said the online application process retains all the safeguards needed to protect people's interests.

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