The Law Society has raised concerns that the online service for lasting powers of attorney (LPA) could be open to cases of fraud and abuse.
LPAs are well established documents that enable you to nominate someone in advance to look after your affairs should you become incapable of doing so yourself at some point in the future.
LPAs can be very helpful but need to be drawn up properly with the help of a solicitor to ensure that they fully reflect your wishes and protect your interests.
In July last year, the government introduced a new system enabling people to make declarations online. The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), which administers LPAs, said the changes were needed to cope with increasing demand.
Alan Eccles, Chief Executive of the OPG, told the Law Gazette: “The UK’s population is ageing and age is the commonest reason for losing mental capacity. The significant business challenge is to keep up with the increasing number of applications.
“We had registered more than 250,000 new LPA instruments by the end of the 2013 tax year.
“The estimate for this year was originally 330,000, but we have had to increase the figure to 380,000. The numbers are not expected to plateau until 2044. To avoid being drowned by paper, we are putting LPAs online for the first time, cutting costs and improving speed and accuracy.”
The Law Society has expressed concern that digital LPAs may lack the high level of security found in traditional documents because there is no written signature or independent witness. This means there may be no conclusive evidence that a vulnerable person willingly entered into an LPA agreement with someone they trust.
Anyone who wants protect their interests with an LPA should ensure that all the safeguards are in place and that the document is correctly drawn up.
Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or for advice about registering a lasting power of attorney.