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Warning of risk to the old and vulnerable

Warning of risk to the old and vulnerable
September 28, 2017 Richard Neea

Our Head of Wills, Tax and Probate, Richard Neea 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.

An LPA is a powerful legal document that allows a person 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 in a paper released on Thursday, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) called for a fully digital system, whereby documents could be registered completely online.

Richard comments : “I am 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 concerning.”

LPAs are processed by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), a public body under the Ministry of Justice. The OPG has previously considered changing the LPA application process as part of a gradual move to take all its processes online.

The Partners at Enoch Evans LLP have many years of experience in acting as either an Attorney or Deputy for our clients.  If you are worried about your affairs, or how the affairs of a loved one will be managed in the future, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Wills, Tax and Probate Team

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