Lasting powers of attorney (LPA) registrations have more than trebled over the past three years to reach 210,000 a year – a £42m market for solicitors, the Public Guardian revealed this week.

With the Office of the Public Guardian aiming to ensure every UK citizen over the age of 18 has one, the market should continue growing until it is worth billions of pounds, Public Guardian and chief executive Alan Eccles (pictured) said. LPAs, which came into effect five years ago under the Mental Capacity Act, allow people to appoint an ‘attorney’ to act on their behalf should they lose the capacity to make decisions in their own best interests.

The loss of mental capacity could happen with old age or because of an accident or illness. Most people registering an LPA require advice from a solicitor, typically costing £200.

Eccles told the Gazette the OPG had seen a ‘phenomenal growth’ in LPA registrations, from 64,000 in 2009 to an expected 210,000 in 2012/13. He said: ‘When the government freeze on marketing is lifted, we expect to experience even more demand for LPAs. Our ambition is to change the demographic of the customer base so that we see more younger people, including members of the armed forces, preparing for the future.’

Describing the OPG as the ‘digital poster child’ of the government’s drive for citizens to transact with public services online, Eccles said plans were in progress to move towards a digital service.

The OPG is seeking views from the public and stakeholders on how LPAs should evolve. The consultation ends on 19 October and can be read on the Justice site.