It is no surprise then that during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and lockdown we have seen a rise in the number of enquiries about Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
An LPA is a legal document in which the person making it (the ‘donor’) chooses or appoints one or more trusted people to act as their ‘attorneys’. The person making the LPA will continue to make their own decisions whilst they are able but if they lose capacity in the future, for example during an illness, then their trusted attorneys could act on their behalf.
Yes, you can make an LPA during lockdown
Due to the impact of the coronavirus, people are looking to put arrangements in place now in case they do become seriously ill and their capacity to make decisions is compromised.
The good news is that you can still make an LPA while observing government guidance on social distancing, self-isolating and shielding.
Our specialist team is working from home to continue safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our clients and staff but are available to discuss making an LPA on your behalf.
How do I make an LPA while social distancing, self-isolating or shielding?
You will have to work a little differently with us but essentially the legal process is the same. There are three main changes that you will have to bear in mind when making an LPA during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Safeguarding any vulnerable individuals
Making a LPA is an important decision that should be thought about carefully.
An important safeguard within the LPA process is that one of our solicitors must talk to you (the donor who wishes to make the LPA) to make sure that you understand what an LPA means for you. This would usually be done in a private face-to-face appointment but at the moment this is not possible. This can instead be done during a private phone call or a video call (Facetime, Zoom or WhatsApp) – whatever you are comfortable with.
2. Witnessing the signatures
The LPA legal document must be physically signed and the donor and attorneys’ signatures witnessed. You cannot witness signatures over video calls, such as Skype or FaceTime and you cannot use digital signatures.
Obviously this may present a problem while social distancing, self-isolating or shielding, but there are ways to work around it.
Neighbours can witness your signature over the garden fence, or your signature could be witnessed through a closed window.
3. The length of time it will take
Once the LPA has been signed, it will need to be sent to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) for registration. There is a four-week waiting period required by law but usually it takes around eight weeks before you get the registered LPA back and can start using it.
The OPG is working to continue registering LPAs and keep its staff safe and healthy but it may take longer to register LPAs.
If you are unsure about how the LPA process will work during lockdown; if you are concerned about social distancing during the witness signing; or you would just like to discuss the process in general then call one of our expert solicitors. Our team will provide free and confidential initial advice before you have to make any decisions.