The Office of the Public Guardian (“OPG”) recently conducted a survey of 410 solicitors in England and Wales to identify whether the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shift in favour of adopting electronic signatures for Lasting Powers of Attorney (“LPAs”).
Over 90 percent of respondents expressed the view that the current requirement for LPAs to be signed in wet ink by the donor should remain. The primary reason was fraud prevention as many legal practitioners have security concerns regarding the use of electronic signatures. This is despite most solicitors reporting that they had never had doubts as to the authenticity of a signature in an LPA.
The preference for retaining wet ink signatures comes into direct conflict with the government’s eventual goal of adopting a fully electronic LPA signing and registration process.
Interestingly, the survey’s respondents were keen for the donor to sign in wet ink but less so for the attorneys. This is perhaps reflective of the care a solicitor must take in certifying that the donor understands their LPAs.
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