Social isolation and social distancing recommendations to slow the spread of Covid-19 have primarily changed our lives. Therefore, it may not feel like the right time to make a Lasting Power of Attorney, given the current Pandemic measures.
However, we are of the opinion that you should never delay planning ahead for your future. The Office of Public Guardian has published guidance that maintains you can keep your social distance and execute your Lasting Power of Attorney.
So, what exactly is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (otherwise known as LPA) is a legal document that allows you (also referred to as a donor) to appoint one or more persons to act on their behalf and manage or make decisions about your property, finances, health and welfare. LPAs are often used when the donor loses capacity or is not able to make their own decisions (such as through a medical condition, like dementia).
The reason why people make Lasting Power of Attorneys is so that they can have control over deciding who they trust the most to manage their affairs, which gives them peace-of-mind for their future.
In the absence of a Lasting Power of Attorney, if you lose the capacity to make your own decisions, then someone may need to act on your behalf and apply to the Court of Protection in order to become your deputy, which is a drawn-out and costly process – plus the person may not be the one you would have chosen, had you had the chance to choose a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Witnessing signatures for Power of Attorney during Covid-19
The fact remains that signatures required for a Lasting Power of Attorney need to be witnessed in the presence of an independent person who is over the age of 18.
The Office of the Public Guardian states that this can be witnessed by a neighbour, on the doorstep or over a garden fence, taking on board the social distancing measures. You can even witness the documents through a closed window if you are feeling concerned, providing the witness is able to see the signature of the document properly.
A witness can be anyone, including an individual that the donor or attorney currently lives with and are in lockdown with, if the person witnessing the signatures is:
- An adult – or aged 18 and above
- Is of sound mental capacity
- Is not named as the attorney or replacement attorney
- If two attorneys reside under one roof, they may witness one another’s signatures.
Lasting Power of Attorney signatures cannot, however, be witnessed using video calls so please refrain from using this method – they must be witnessed in person.
All the above means that the guidance suggests there is no reason why you would need to delay your Lasting Power of Attorney amid Covid-19. JMR Solicitors are a reputable law firm who can help you draw up a Lasting Power of Attorney document.
When can the chosen attorney use an LPA?
An LPA needs to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used. Also, if the donor wishes, then the LPA for property and financial decisions can be used instantly after its registration and before the donor has lost their capacity. However, the LPA for health and welfare cannot be used until the donor has lost the capacity to make their own decisions. At present, the OPG has notified all that it is still open and registering LPAs, but that Covid-19 may postpone timescales.
How can LPAs help during the Covid-19 crisis?
An LPA that is correctly in place, registered and has no restrictions can be helpful during Covid-19. An example scenario of when it can be useful is when an elderly relative is in self-isolation and has an LPA for property and financial decisions, having appointed one of their children as the attorney. If the LPA permits, then the attorney will have the authority to pay bills and purchase essential items using their parent’s bank account for them.
Contact JMR Solicitors for your Lasting Power of Attorney during Covid-19
The team at JMR Solicitors delivers a comprehensive service in relation to LPAs, extending to their creation and execution to final registration.
Contact us on 0161 491 3933 or email firstname.lastname@example.org