The new Powers of Attorney Act 2023 has been given Royal Assent and proposes changes which will simplify and streamline the process of substituted decision making. The changes, when introduced, will amend the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and make the system quicker, easier to access and more secure for the thousands of people who make and rely on a lasting power of attorney every year.
The legislation, which was introduced by Stephen Metcalfe MP and supported by the Government, will also strengthen existing fraud protection by allowing checks on the identity of those applying for a lasting power of attorney.
The new online system and the additional safeguards are now being developed by the Office of the Public Guardian. Extensive testing will need to be carried out to ensure the process is simple to use, works as intended and is secure. More information on when it will be available will be published in the coming months.
The digitalisation will speed up registration time by picking up errors earlier and allowing them to be fixed online rather than having to wait for documents to be posted back and forth between the applicant and the Office of the Public Guardian as currently happens.
An improved paper process will also be introduced for those unable to use the internet.
Amy Holmes, the Public Guardian for England and Wales said, “This is a significant milestone in our plans to modernise lasting powers of attorney and we are one step closer to a quicker, more secure and straightforward service.”
In the meantime, the Office of the Public Guardian has increased the number of staff processing applications and the teams are now registering around 19,000 more lasting powers of attorney a month than before the pandemic.