Lasting Power of Attorney changes may leave older and vulnerable at risk

Wed 27th Sep 2017

Sarah Cornish of Coodes Solicitors’ Wills, Probate and Trusts team has joined fellow members of Solicitors for the Elderly in warning against proposals to turn the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) registration process fully digital. Sarah explains why she supports the campaign.

An LPA is a powerful legal document that allows someone to appoint trusted individuals to make important decisions about their finances and property on their behalf. Under the current process, a ‘wet signature’ – the physical signing of the document – is required by individuals who wish to register an LPA. But the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has now called for a fully digital system, whereby documents could be registered completely online.

We are extremely concerned by the FCA’s push for fully digital powers of attorney. Although we welcome initiatives that make LPAs more accessible, the security of older and vulnerable people is paramount. Under the current system, the FCA’s vision of a secure, end-to-end digital LPA registration process is simply not possible.

Removing the requirement of a wet signature has the potential to put thousands of people at risk of fraud and financial abuse. An LPA requires the understanding and consent of the donor, but without the witnessing of a physical signature, what is to stop a family member or friend registering a document on someone else’s behalf, perhaps even without their knowledge?

LPAs are extremely powerful and complex documents, and the prospect of being able to take control of someone else’s bank account and even their property with the few clicks of a button is frankly reckless.

To discuss lasting power of attorney or any estate planning issues, please contact Sarah on 0800 328 3282 or sarah.cornish@coodes.co.uk

Wed 27th Sep 2017

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