Digital LPAs and KYC

Written by Sam Jackson on 1st November 2021

Over the course of the past few months, the office for the public guardian (OPG) has been collaborating and consulting with various industry professionals with the aim of modernising the LPA signing process. This comes as a result of the rise in demand for LPAs during lockdown. This combined with a backlog of cases, and the difficulties with the witnessing process, meant waiting times exceeded 20 weeks. Digitalisation will completely change the way LPAs are handled in the future, from submitting the finished document to allowing witnesses to sign digitally.

Although many are celebrating this step forward, some are criticising the move to digital as a potential avenue for fraud and misrepresentation. So what safeguards can be put in place to protect clients from bad actors?

Many businesses employ Know Your Customer (or KYC) checks when documents are signed digitally. Real-time signature replays, IP address capture and what OS/Browser is being used, these are all ways to confirm the authenticity of a digital signature. It can be argued that for an important document execution as foran LPA, further authentication such as a video/webcam recording could also be implemented. Indeed, this technology has already been implemented in banking for what are identifiable as “new challenger banks”.

WillSuite has also employed these checks, as the system has the ability to carry out digital signatures on documents. Clients can view detailed information about how, where, and when signatures are carried out.

Despite fears, it appears clear that with appropriate application, 2FA, and additional safeguards, digital signatures could be the future for the LPA signing process. There still persists a significant fear of technology within the industry but, as we can see with the recent plans to modernise the LPA process, it has become a necessity. Evidence from the past 2 years has demonstrated that the right preparation is needed to ensure the correct process always runs as intended, especially during times of national emergency.

In conclusion, LPAs are certainly moving in the right direction. Many services in the UK are modernising and it seems a logical extension for the LPA process to follow.

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