Digital Power of Attorney Will Leave Older People at Risk
In this blog, Tracy Martin, Partner at North Yorkshire Law, discusses why we need to talk about the consequences of a fully digital Lasting Power of Attorney system, following a push from the Financial Conduct Authority.
Fraud is currently the UK’s most common offence, with 3.4 million fraud attempts recorded in the year ending March 20171. With the number of such cases on the rise, the elderly are becoming increasingly vulnerable to criminals who seek to take advantage of them.
Sadly, over half of people over 65 have been targeted by fraudsters2. Personal circumstances such as social isolation and the deterioration of decision-making put elders at risk of falling victim to scammers.
Following the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) recent call for a fully digital Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) system, myself, and other members of Solicitors for the Elderly, believe that such changes will lead to a drastic increase in financial abuse amongst older and vulnerable people.
Power of Attorney is a legally drawn up document, which enables a trusted individual, such as a family member, to act on your behalf should you not be able to make decisions by yourself. Although individuals can register for LPA online, under the current system the document is not valid until it is signed, dated and witnessed.
A system that no longer requires a ‘wet signature’ would certainly simplify the LPA registration process, however I strongly believe it would also compromise the security of an already vulnerable group.
The current Lasting Power of Attorney regime was introduced on October 1st, 2007 to replace the previous Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) system. This new system was designed to ensure someone registering for Power of Attorney was not subject to pressure or fraud. We must do all that we can to ensure the safeguarding of the donor in such processes, and countering the 2007 changes puts them at risk.
At North Yorkshire Law, we strongly agree with Solicitors for the Elderly that “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.”