The announcement by the Ministry of Justice last month to postpone plans to introduce a fully electronic and on-line process for the creation and registration of Lasting Powers of Attorney is welcome news for many of my clients, regardless of their age, health and wellbeing or digital and on-line know how.
The Government has been trying to bring in a system of digital Lasting Powers of Attorney since 2011, but members of my profession clearly share my view that the necessity of a signature to a paper-based form is still the best method of reducing cases of fraud, undue influence and unfair pressure being applied to those creating Lasting Powers of Attorney.
It ensures that all members of society can access a system to put in place measures which will ensure that both their property and financial affairs can be managed and decisions made about their health and welfare in the event of their sudden loss mental capacity or a gradual deterioration in their mental health.
This news is therefore welcomed, but in itself highlights the wider and more significant issue of how many people do not put in place Lasting Powers of Attorney to protect themselves in the event of the onset of mental incapacity.
The Government’s decision not to proceed does bring with it a missed opportunity (which formed part of the plan) to combine the two Lasting Power of Attorney documents that one can create in respect of property and financial affairs and health and welfare decisions, into a single document. My own representations to the Government would be to look at this specific issue again as quite often the additional expense of dealing with a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney can make the cost of creation of such documents prohibitive for a number of my clients. Any measures which can be taken to encourage more people to protect their future by simplifying the process and reducing the cost of doing so whilst maintaining the integrity and security of the signed LPA document should be a priority.
The announcement should however serve as a reminder to us all of the importance of Lasting Powers of Attorney, appointing people who we trust to be able to assist us and ultimately deal with our affairs in the event that we are unable to do so ourselves.
To discuss a Lasting Power of Attorney or matters generally relating to the administration of the affairs of a loved one who has issues with mental capacity, please contact me, Stuart Maher, on 01254 884422 or firstname.lastname@example.org .