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22nd July 2020

New On-line Service from the Office of the Public Guardian – help or hindrance?

The Office of the Public Guardian has launched a new digital system to replace the need to provide physical copies of lasting powers of attorney to financial institutions or health care providers.
For newly registered lasting powers of attorney (that is those registered on or after 17th July 2020) the Office of the Public Guardian will provide an activation key to the attorneys which will allow them to set up an online account and supply an access code to the organisations they wish to deal with. An organisation can then see an online summary of the lasting power of attorney instead of having to see a paper certified copy of the lasting power of attorney. It is hoped that this will save time taken up by posting the physical documents back and forth.

It is likely that the organisation concerned will still need to identify the attorney for anti-money laundering purposes, so it is debateable how much bureaucracy will be avoided. It is already possible to consult the register of lasting powers of attorney to see whether or not a valid lasting power of attorney is in place.

Furthermore, there are concerns that, as the lasting power of attorney can be registered at a time when the person who created it has mental capacity, that person could be bypassed by the attorney in this system.

It is unclear whether the summary of the lasting power of attorney will contain all the relevant information. Professionally prepared lasting powers of attorney usually have additional powers and provisions to help the attorneys effect as smooth a transfer as possible from the donor to the attorneys. If these are overlooked in the summary it may affect the services an organisation will provide to the attorneys.

Other concerns relate to how many institutions are aware of or set up to use this system. It has been developed in conjunction with HSBC and DWP. Of course, it is of no help to those without access to a computer and the internet.

For more information on Powers of Attorney you can download our information sheet by clicking here. Alternatively to discuss any of the items raised in this article please contact one of our Solicitors below.

Alexandra Francis on 01223 447422 or click here to email Alexandra.
Alexandra Svennevik on 01604 463342 or click here to email Alexandra.
Carolyn Bagley on 01908 247015 or click here to email Carolyn.
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