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LPA application process to be made easier, says minister

The process for applying for a lasting power of attorney (LPA) is to be made easier and simpler, Justice Minister Simon Hughes has announced.

An LPA is a useful tool for managing your affairs should you temporarily or permanently lack capacity to do so. It allows the person making the arrangement – the donor – to give a trusted person, such as a relative, business partner or solicitor, the legal authority to manage their financial and property matters, such as operating their bank account, if they become mentally or physically incapacitated. This person is known as an attorney.

An LPA can also be made allowing the donor to give an attorney – not necessarily the same person as the one handling their financial affairs – the power to make decisions on matters including their health and welfare.

In an announcement on 27 August, Mr Hughes said that new, simplified forms would be introduced that would allow people to state when they wished their LPA to come into effect.

Following feedback from the public, the forms for the health and welfare LPA and the property and finance LPAs will not be combined.

Decisions to give or refuse consent to life-sustaining treatment can only be made by an attorney if the donor has specifically stated this on the form. A requirement for a signature and witness for the life sustaining treatment section of the LPA will be retained along with other existing safeguards, such as someone the donor knows certifying that, in their judgment, they have mental capacity when making the LPA.

Mr Hughes said: “Having lasting powers of attorney is as important as having a will and these changes make it much easier for people to apply for one.

“LPAs give people the peace of mind of knowing that if they ever lose capacity, the important decisions about their life can be taken by someone they have chosen and can trust. We are keeping the right safeguards in place to protect the public at what can be a vulnerable time in a person’s life.”

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) will launch the updated LPA application forms by early next year, complementing an online application process.

Most of the one million LPAs currently registered with the OPG (94 per cent) are for people aged over 60, with almost half for over-80s, and the government wants to make sure more people have one in place.