Bungay solicitor warns changes to powers of attorney may leave older and vulnerable at risk
- Credit: Archant
Colleagues at a Bungay solicitors have joined members of Solicitors for the Elderly in warning against proposals to turn the lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) registration process fully digital.
Solicitor Frances Davy and her colleague Jenny George from Sprake and Kingsley, in Broad Street, explained the proposals would remove the need for a physical signature and could lead to a drastic increase in cases of financial abuse.
An LPA is a 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. But in a paper released last week, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) called for a fully digital system, whereby documents could be registered completely online.
Miss Davy said: '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?
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'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.'
Solicitors for the Elderly is an independent, national organisation of more than 1,500 lawyers, such as solicitors, barristers, and chartered legal executives, who provide specialist legal advice for older and vulnerable people and their families. Last year, the organisation released a report raising concerns around the current online system for LPAs, which it claims already leaves older and vulnerable people open to abuse.
To find out more, visit www.sfe.legal
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