Q&A - Are there downsides to setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney online?

Q:  My wife and I have been considering setting up Lasting Powers of Attorney. Our mobility is decreasing and it would be useful for our children to deal with our banking, post and bills on our behalf. I understand that it is possible to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney online. Is this the case, and would you recommend doing so?

A:  There are two types Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) available; one appointing an attorney to deal with your property and financial affairs, and another appointing an attorney to make decisions regarding your health and welfare.  The document is "lasting", meaning that your attorneys can continue to act on your behalf should you become incapable of managing your affairs or making your own decisions through illness or injury.

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) recently introduced a facility for creating an LPA online via their website, which guides you through completing the required paperwork. However, once the document is completed, it must still be printed and signed by the relevant parties in a strict order and timescale.

Before the LPA may be used, it must be registered with the OPG and any errors in the form or in the timing of signatures could mean that it is invalid. The fee for registering LPAs is £110 from 1st October 2013 but discounts are available if you receive a low income or certain benefits.

It is vital that you consult a legal professional before creating an LPA online to ensure that you understand the implications of giving away such a great responsibility. Once registered, an LPA can be used by your attorneys to transfer money in and out of your bank accounts, sell your property and in the case of a Health and Welfare LPA, take critical decisions regarding your medical treatment.