Written by WillSuite on 24th August 2020
THE FIRST EVER DIGITAL LPA HAS BEEN REGISTERED BY THE OPG
With great excitement we can announce that a registered LPA from the Office for the Public Guardian (OPG) which had been signed electronically was received today by WillSuite and Love Legal director, Seb Shakh - around 5 months since the document was posted, possibly paving way for further improvements and innovation.
Pressure placed upon the OPG during the coronavirus pandemic can be ascertained from the below timeline, making it clear efficiencies with the power of attorney have been severely affected - further concreting the argument for digitisation of the registration process.
On the 16th of March 2020, the first digitally signed LPA in England and Wales was submitted in the name of WillSuite and Love Legal Director Seb Shakh.
There was then over 2 months radio silence until 13th May when the OPG contacted to request payment, only marking the start of the process.
It took a further 2 months for the Donor and Attorney to receive the initial notice stating intention to register the power of attorney and providing the right for objection.
After a final month’s wait, and after the three week notice period, the registered LPA including the electronic signatures OPG’s stamp was received.
Why we did it
With the pandemic growing and an imposed lockdown becoming likely, Seb Shakh decided to trial an experimental e-signing service built within Love Legal himself by registering an LPA under his name, in order to ascertain whether the OPG would approve his attempt to register his intentions which could set a precedent to allow those in quarantine or without a printer to create an LPA completely digitally without having to place pen to paper.
Due to the predicted issues with the OPG service, will writing software provider WillSuite have since seen an increase in demand for the lesser used “General Power of Attorney” documents which banks and financial institutions are less likely to accept, providing more difficulties for attorneys and those vulnerable people who are isolating and not able to visit their banks or manage affairs while self-isolating at home.
An attached cover letter confirmed to the government agency the document was signed electronically and the reasons it should be deemed valid.
What does this mean for the future?
If the process were to be digitised in the near future and it became possible for LPAs to be formed, executed and ultimately approved online via telematic means, there would be a drastic improvement in the waiting times faced by many currently - as well as making the power of attorney service more accessible for the vulnerable.
While we believe a transformation is possible without compromising scope for fraudulent registrations, it should be noted that on the week commencing the 8th of June, the OPG’s website providing guidance on LPAs was updated, simply adding the text “They cannot sign copies or use digital signatures.”. This casts doubt on the scope of future electronic LPAs and without further clarification leads us against advising others to register LPAs for their own clients in this way.
Mr. Shakh’s company Love Legal, looks to improve and simplify the market of online Wills and LPAs with a vision to expand its horizons. Via the Love Legal software, estate planners and consequently their consumers, are able to create Wills and LPAs (and many other related documents) in a simple and straightforward manner.
Seb commented “We created this software by visualising and impersonating someone with no experience not only in the Will business but in the use of online programs too. This allowed us to create, what we truly believe to be, the simplest and most efficient way to create a power of attorney online”. He then added, “I believe along with the other services recently digitised by the OPG, the receipt of the registered LPA is definitely a step in the right direction to drastically change the registration time”.
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