It was recently reported in The Telegraph that “The Financial Conduct Authority [FCA] has said the requirement for a paper and pen signature when applying for Power of Attorney should be scrapped, making it easier to apply”.
Of course, at the moment, a power of attorney (whether a general power of attorney or a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)) can be prepared electronically but it needs to be signed (and witnessed!) on paper. In the future, powers of attorney may be able to be dealt with entirely online. Naturally, this raises all kinds of potentially big problems including the security of such documents being held online, and how a person can witness a signature online.
Other important issues also need to be addressed were it to become possible for online-only powers of attorney to be created, like minimising the risks of a power of attorney being created fraudulently, and ensuring that anyone who makes a power of attorney has the mental capacity to do so. There is also the matter of ensuring that anyone who makes a power of attorney understands exactly what it is that they are doing.
There is also the issue of validity of the document – if the document is created and there are any mistakes, the document may not be able to be used in the way the person creating it wanted, or it may be invalid and it may be expensive to sort out any such mistake.
It will be interesting to see how the law develops to cover the making of powers of attorney electronically… However, whether you are making a paper-based power of attorney now, or an online-only power of attorney in the future (were that to be the case), you are strongly encouraged to consider taking expert legal advice.
This article was written on 27 September 2017 and the law may change following this date.
This article aims to supply general information but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek specific advice.
Capron & Helliwell Solicitors offer a range of legal services at the firm’s Stalham and Wroxham offices near North Walsham and Norwich in Norfolk. The firm specialises in areas including family law, conveyancing and private client law including wills and probate. Capron & Helliwell Solicitors offer free family law clinics – please call 01692 581231 or 01603 783818 for further details or to make an appointment