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Digital lasting power of attorney tool launches

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An online tool has launched which should make it easier and quicker for power of attorneys to manage their loved ones’ affairs.

The ‘use a lasting power of attorney’ tool from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) will help attorneys contact banks and healthcare providers more easily, helping them make important decisions on property and care.

Currently the paper-based process means it can take weeks as documents need to be requested and confirmed between organisations and individuals.

Instead, attorneys will receive a secure code which when submitted to the online portal will confirm their status as attorney.

The OPG said the new tool also maintains existing checks, including to confirm whether someone has the legal right to act as an attorney and the powers they may be entitled to – protecting the vulnerable and elderly from abuse of an LPA.

In the last few years, the use of LPAs has increased with more than four million now being registered. It’s a legal document allowing people to appoint an attorney to make decisions about their welfare, money or property.

Nick Goodwin, public guardian for England and Wales, said: “More people are taking the important step to plan for the future and apply for a Lasting Power of Attorney, and we want to make sure those they entrust with making vital decisions on their behalf receive the very best possible support.

“Our new digital service will ensure attorneys can make effective and efficient decisions when managing their loved ones’ affairs – without the delays a paper-based services can cause.

“But this is just one part of our ambitious transformation programme and we are constantly looking at how we can improve as an organisation to benefit the public and our partners.”

‘Emotional and daunting process’

Gordon Andrews, financial planning expert at Quilter, said: “It is very pleasing to see the government bring lasting power of attorney into the digital age, allowing people to quickly act on behalf of their loved ones. Acting as an attorney can be an emotional and difficult process as it often means you are taking actions for someone close to you who may not be in the capacity to do so themselves, and as such the process needed to be made as seamless and efficient as possible.

“This change will allow those acting as an attorney quick confirmation of their status and the authority they hold as well as help speed up the process for the lasting power of attorney to be registered and accepted by financial institutions as they will have access to this information online.

“This means less time will be wasted spent copying and sending the deed to different financial institutions who the donor has a relationship with. We are hopeful this is the first in a long line of changes to make managing your financial affairs and welfare matters much more efficient and less daunting.”

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