Lasting power of attorney documents are going to become “ever more important” to ensuring that people can continue to live the lives they want, a Conservative MP has warned.
Stephen Metcalfe urged MPs to back his plans to streamline the process for registering lasting powers of attorney, telling them that changes were important with the “prevalence of dementia increasing and our population ageing”.
The legal powers allow someone to give responsibility over their finances, property or private affairs to a relative, a friend or to a trusted lawyer, if they are unable to act for themselves.
Mr Metcalfe’s Powers of Attorney Bill aims to streamline the process for registering, but also introduce requirements to verify identity for those being given the power of attorney in order to prevent fraud or abuse.
Introducing his Bill to the Commons, he said: “I believe powers of attorney generally and lasting powers of attorney (LPA) specifically are incredibly powerful and incredibly useful appointments. They allow people to retain control over aspects of their lives in circumstances where they might not otherwise be able to make decisions or take actions.
“LPAs in particular ensure that people have the opportunity to make provision for a future where they may no longer have the mental capacity to understand what is happening to them and therefore to make decisions about the things that they care about.
“With the prevalence of dementia increasing and our population ageing, these documents are going to become ever more important to ensuring that people can continue to live the lives they want to and even more important to protecting people who otherwise may be the target of fraud, scams and other abuse.”
The South Basildon and East Thurrock MP said his Bill delivers “two important changes to legislation around powers of attorney”, explaining: “First, it will reform the process of making and registering a lasting power of attorney to make it safer, easier and more sustainable.
“And second, it will widen the group of people who can provide certified copies of powers of attorney to include chartered legal executives.”
The Bill received an unopposed second reading in the Commons, with backing from the Government.
Justice minister Mike Freer told MPs: “I look forward to supporting him as the Bill completes its journey and hopefully makes its way onto the statute book.”
He added: “Given the importance and significance of this document and the gravity of the power it confers it is absolutely right that we look at how we can make the process for making and registering a lasting power of attorney safer, simpler and more accessible.”
MPs will give further scrutiny to the Bill at a later date.