More needs to be done to ensure disabled, vulnerable and older people are not negatively affected by new digital Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) services announced by government as it concluded its consultation on these, the Law Society of England and Wales said.
LPAs give sweeping powers over life decisions when an individual’s mental capacity is diminished – delegating a whole raft of issues to a nominated person (the ‘attorney’) to make calls on everything from finances to living arrangements.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) launched a consultation in July 2021, seeking views on how modernising the LPA service could increase efficiency and make LPAs more accessible via a digital channel.
“LPAs are arguably one of the most important legal documents that a person will make because they delegate such wide-reaching powers over their life,” said Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce.
“The consequence of an attorney making a poor decision could be the loss of all their assets, being put into a care home against their current or past wishes, or even their premature death.
We welcome the MoJ’s commitment to improve the speed and accuracy of making an LPA, as well as to continue to provide a paper service. Many people – such as those in care homes or people with learning difficulties – will continue to need to make an LPA via a paper process.
We are pleased the government is looking at proposals to improve support for those who will struggle with using digital channels, as more needs to be done to ensure the reforms do not negatively impact vulnerable, disabled or older people.”