News

29

Sep

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

Local solicitor warns changes to powers of attorney may leave older and vulnerable at risk

  • Local solicitor, Bryony Wilmshurst from Cunningtons LLP issues warning following FCA’s call to turn lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) fully digital
  • Proposals would remove the need for a physical ‘wet signature’
  • Solicitors say this could lead to a drastic increase in cases of financial abuse

Local solicitor Bryony Wilmshurst from Cunningtons LLP based in Braintree, Essex has joined fellow members of Solicitors for the Elderly in warning against proposals to turn the 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.

Bryony Wilmshurst 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?

“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 over 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.

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.

To find out more about LPAs go to: www.cunningtons.co.uk

.

Finding a conveyancing solicitor Finding a conveyancing solicitor

Our Locations

Braintree - 01376 567275

Cunningtons LLP in Great Square and Tofts Walk in Braintree, Essex, is the head office for Cunningtons Solicitors across the UK. Established in 1748, the Braintree head office in Great Square is still in its original offices. This amounts to almost 300 years of Experience and Tradition.

The Senior Partner at Cunningtons’ Braintree office is David Drake. Paul Fenton is the Joint Managing Partner. He, along with Johanna Withams are the residential conveyancing partners at the Braintree practice. They are supported by qualified Solicitors and Licenced Conveyancers.

Read More

Braintree Walk In
Brighton & Hove: 01273 725229
Chelmsford: 01245 264494
Croydon: 0208 688 8446
Ilford: 020 8553 0002
Solihull: 0121 7056868
Wickford: 01268 732268