Proposals put forward by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) to fully digitise the process for making a Lasting Power of Attorney could be very detrimental for vulnerable groups, the Law Society for England and Wales has warned.
It claims that full digitalisation in England and Wales would remove the protection that is currently provided by the requirement for physical ‘wet’ signatures that need to be witnessed.
The Law Society consultation response, which was drafted by the Wills and Equity Committee along with the Mental Health and Disability Committee and the Technology and Law Reference Group, explains that the creation of a fully digital Lasting Power of Attorney in practice means removing the role of the witness and there is no evidence that this is a desirable next step that will ‘encourage greater numbers of the population to plan ahead’ by making a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Law Society president Nicholas Fluck said:
‘The removal of a witness and the formalities of preparing a deed reduces the creation of a Lasting Power of Attorney to a commoditised product. This is dangerous because once created it is a very powerful document.
‘The proposals do not explain in detail how the online process will work, and this raises important questions: for example, whether all the parties have to use the same computer at the same time; if not, how the certificate provider will be able to confirm that the elderly or frail person understands the powers they are granting and that they have not been subject to undue pressure or abuse.’
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