Changes to powers of attorney may leave the older and vulnerable at risk

29th September 2017

Changes to powers of attorney may leave the older and vulnerable at risk

Philip Martin-Summers, an expert in powers of attorney and Court of Protection matters at Higgs & Sons is re-iterating warnings from Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), against proposals to turn the registration of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) fully digital.

Philip comments: “We are extremely concerned by the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) push for fully digital powers of attorney.

“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 last Thursday, the FCA called for a fully digital system, whereby documents could be registered completely online.

“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.”

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.

Philip Martin-Summers who is a member of SFE continues:

“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.”

For more information on Lasting Powers of Attorney and the FCA proposal, contact Philip Martin-Summers.




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