Disabled and vulnerable must be protected under lasting power of attorney (LPA) modernisation

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.”

Notes to editors

Read our consultation response in full

Read the MoJ and the Office of the Public Guardian’s consultation response on modernising the lasting power of attorney service

Read the Office for National Statistics report on exploring the UK’s digital divide

* This is an end-of-life issue and relates to a welfare LPA – where the donor can give the attorney power to make the decision to consent to or refuse life sustaining treatment for the person.

In November 2020, the Law Society attended a roundtable hosted by the MoJ and the OPG, which sought engagement between core stakeholders and the UK government on the key points of modernising the LPA process.

Find out more about the roundtable

Lasting power of attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people – known as attorneys – to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf.

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