Of late much is being made of the ability of an individual to create, and apply for the registration of, their own Lasting Powers of Attorney online and indeed recently the Courts have launched the ability to apply for a Divorce Petition online. Whilst there is no doubt that a move to a clearer system for both of these types of application is welcome, there is a significant risk of time consuming and potentially costly errors being made as a result of people choosing to carry out these applications themselves rather than seeking the advice of a solicitor.
Anyone can make an application for a divorce or Lasting Power of Attorney online much in the same way as anybody could change the oil on their own car or re-roof their house if they chose to do so. However whether either of those two examples or whether preparing legal documents yourself there is a significant risk of a mistake being made or an issue being overlooked which could be time consuming and costly to put right later.
Taking the example of one’s car, if you chose to change the oil but used the wrong type of filter then you could cause significant damage to the engine. Rather therefore than paying a relatively small amount to a garage to change your oil you could end up paying several times that for much more significant repairs. Equally when a garage changes your oil they may notice other issues with the car which can be resolved at that stage relatively easily that might otherwise go unnoticed. It is much the same with a Divorce Petition or a Lasting Power of Attorney. Firstly by using a qualified solicitor to prepare the documentation you are assured that it will be prepared to a high standard, it will be prepared professionally and you will be able to receive the best possible advice to make the correct decisions. Equally, particularly when considering Lasting Powers of Attorney, there may be other ancillary issues, such as amendments required to your Will, which will need to be borne in mind and may have a bearing on how best to proceed. A solicitor will alert you to these issues and assist you to proceed. If any such issues go undetected or undealt with then, in the case of a Lasting Power of Attorney, it may not work in the manner in which you expect and may cause your Attorneys difficulties later on. In the worst case scenario, it may be that your Attorneys cannot fully manage your affairs when you no longer have the capacity to do so. If your Lasting Power of Attorney is ineffective, the alternative is for your Attorneys to make an application to be appointed as a Deputy which can cost several thousand pounds, much more than the cost of having a Lasting Power of Attorney professionally drawn up initially.
Ordinarily the divorce process is a relatively straightforward paper exercise however, if the paperwork is not filled out correctly and the correct protocols are not followed you may find that a Court hearing is required which can be both time consuming, stressful and indeed expensive especially if legal representation is required. Equally if the correct procedure is not followed it is possible that you may be ordered to pay your spouse’s legal costs if sufficiently serious errors have been made.
As such when considering making any applications of a legal nature online please arrange an appointment with one of our qualified solicitors who can speak to you about any ancillary advice that might be required and guide you through the process as necessary.
Hallam Merryweather, Partner.