News | September 28, 2021

Ann Stanyer raises fraud flag with LPA consultation

Today’s Wills & Probate have published Ann Stanyer’s comments raising concerns about proposals to reform Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs), specifically that the digitisation of the LPA process opens to door to fraud and alienates the most vulnerable.

The consultation (which is open until 13 October 2021) includes proposals on:

  • removing the need for a witness altogether;
  • expanding the remit of the OPG to verify individuals and tighten up on the risk of fraud;
  • when and how long people may object to an LPA for;
  • the need for an expedited LPA service; and
  • the potential to provide greater integration of the LPA service into solicitors’ legal case management systems.

Ann Stanyer, who is a partner at Wedlake Bell and a specialist on the law involving mental incapacity and financial abuse, has said:

“The LPA consultation paper issued by the Ministry of Justice continues the theme of ‘digitisation by default’. For the Probate Registry and the Land Registry this may be appropriate; however, the OPG… should have at the forefront of its goals maintaining safeguards established in the Mental Capacity Act 2005.”

“To suggest that witnesses are superfluous and that their role could be replaced by digital signatures is shocking.”

“The paper’s Executive Summary suggests that ‘our preferred option is to replace the witness with new safeguards that perform the same function’. What possible safeguards would act in the same way as an independent witness?”

“A witness will be physically present at the time that the donor signs and can potentially provide evidence that there is no one else asserting influence, telling the donor to sign, or even signing in their place: it is difficult to see how a digital safeguard can do the same job. The witnessing proposal may suit a fully digital process.”

“Unfortunately for the OPG, elderly vulnerable clients who want LPAs do not neatly fit into a digital world.”

To read the full article please click here.