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Building an Automation (Part 1 – First Steps)

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This is the first of a series of articles that will examine the building process behind a document automation solution.

Background

I’ve been asked to build an automation solution for Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) – specifically the documents needed by a solicitor when a client wishes to register an EPA with the High Court.

I’ve previously done something similar in relation to the creation of an EPA (see here) – what’s different this time is that I’m going to try and show you the work behind the building of an automation.

End Product

I’m going to build a system that collects information from the user and then instantly delivers a full suite of completed documents. The information will be collected using an online form which, when submitted, will generate MS Word documents and e-mail them to the user.

Data security is assured by the use of encryption technologies, and the automation process (from form submission to receipt of documents) will occur instantly.

First Steps

At the outset I need to examine a lot of information – the legislation and regulations applicable to EPAs, the court rules, the forms that are mandated, the Law Society Guidelines, and so on. Having done that, I have a pretty good idea of the registration process from the time that a client walks into your office with an EPA he/she wants to register.

Here’s what I think happens (corrections gratefully accepted!):

An Attorney (or Attorneys) comes to your office with a concern that the Donor is losing capacity. You will consult with the Attorney(s) and offer advice on the Role and Obligation of Attorneys (see 2016 Law Society Guidelines).

Assuming a decision is made to apply to register the EPA with the Wards of Court Office, you should then:

  • Personally satisfy yourself that the donor is, or is becoming, incapable of managing his/her affairs;
  • Obtain a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner;
  • Obtain a copy of the EPA from the Attorney(s);
  • Prepare documentation for signature by the Attorney(s).

In order to prepare the documentation you will need:

  • The EPA;
  • The Medical Certificate;
  • Instructions from the Attorney / Attorneys who intend applying to register.

Documents to Generate

Here is a list of the documents that you will (ordinarily) need to generate for the registration process:

  • Letter to Registered Medical Practitioner requesting Medical Certificate;
  • Notice of Intention to Apply for Registration (addressed to Donor)
  • Covering Letter addressed to Donor
  • Notice of Intention to Apply for Registration (addressed to First Notice Party)
  • Covering Letter addressed to First Notice Party
  • Notice of Intention to Apply for Registration (addressed to Second Notice Party)
  • Covering Letter addressed to Second Notice Party
  • Notice of Intention to Apply for Registration (addressed to Non-Applicant Attorney(s))
  • Covering Letter addressed to Non-Applicant Attorney(s)
  • Notice of Intention to Apply for Registration (addressed to Registrar of Wards of Court)
  • Covering Letter addressed to Registrar of Wards of Court
  • Affidavit of Service of Notices of Intention to Apply for Registration
  • Application for Registration
  • Covering Letter addressed to Donor
  • Covering Letter addressed to First Notice Party
  • Covering Letter addressed to Second Notice Party
  • Covering Letter addressed to Non-Applicant Attorney(s)
  • Affidavit of Service of Application for Registration
  • Grounding Affidavit
  • Covering Letter addressed to Registrar of Wards of Court

I say ‘ordinarily’ because there may be occasions when there are more than two Notice Parties (so I will need to generate additional documents) or where there are no Non-Applicant Attorneys (in which case those documents will not be needed). There may also be situations where the Notice Parties are deceased, or have lost mental capacity, or simply cannot be found. This is something that I may or may not factor into the overall solution (depending largely on whether my user feedback indicates that it would be a useful feature).

Data Required

As to the data that I would need to collect in order to populate the documents, rather than simply set out a list of the required data, I have also considered where that data is to be found so that I can better understand how the user is going to deal with my form when it is built. Here is the data I will need, together with the likely source of that data:

Data PointData Source
Donor NameEPA
Donor Address (as per EPA)EPA
Present Donor Address (if different)Attorney(s)
Present Marital Status of DonorAttorney(s)
Date of Execution of EPAEPA
Applicant Attorney Name(s)EPA / Attorney(s)
Applicant Attorney Address(es)Attorney(s)
Non-Applicant Attorney Name(s)EPA
Non-Applicant Attorney Address(es)EPA
First Notice Party NameEPA
First Notice Party AddressEPA
Present First Notice Party Address (if known)Attorney(s)
Relationship of First Notice Party to DonorEPA
Second Notice Party NameEPA
Second Notice Party AddressEPA
Present Second Notice Party Address (if known)Attorney(s)
Relationship of Second Notice Party to Donor (if any)EPA
Name of Registered Medical PractitionerMedical Certificate
Date of Medical CertificateMedical Certificate
Date of Completion of Part C of EPAEPA
Date of Completion of Part D of EPAEPA
Date of Notification to First Notice Party of Execution of EPAEPA
Date of Notification to Second Notice Party of Execution of EPAEPA
Date EPA came into possession of the Attorney(s)Attorney(s)
Manner by which EPA came into possession of the Attorney(s)Attorney(s)
EPA not interfered with or altered in any way since it came into possession of the Attorney(s)Attorney(s)

There is some additional data that will have to be included in the generated documents (eg. date of service of Notices of Intention to Apply for Registration) but I am going to have to leave it to the user to insert that information at a later stage because it simply doesn’t exist yet. Alternatively, if the user is able to specify with certainty the date on which those Notices will be served, that date can be included (and can later be changed by the user if necessary).

Obvious Benefits

I can already see the time saving potential of this solution – data is entered once and then repeated in various locations across the documents. For example, the Donor’s Name will be included in at least 30 different locations across the suite of documents (and that’s just doing a rough count).

Next step is to take a more detailed look at the required documentation and start building templates that can automatically re-arrange their own content (‘conditional formatting’) based on the data that is entered.

The next part of this article is available here.