As the Government’s Covid-19 restrictions lift in England and Wales, it is important to note that safeguards and procedures do remain in place in relation to certain legal documents. In particular, the Government has recently updated its guidance in relation to making new Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs).
LPAs enable you, while you retain the mental capacity to do so, to appoint someone else to manage your affairs as your attorney. LPAs may be useful if you need some extra help with your finances or lose mental capacity. LPAs are complex documents which often require the involvement of several different individuals. Arranging the individuals’ signatures can be particularly challenging under the current circumstances.
Under the updated guidance, the government has stressed that while you can still make new LPAs, you must adhere to the Covid-19 restrictions. For instance, social distancing should be maintained and where possible, lateral flow testing should be carried out before individuals meet in person.
The guidance also confirms that digital signatures may not be used and the original document must be signed by all individuals involved (as opposed to using photocopies or scans).
For any signatures requiring a witness, witnessing must be done in person and cannot be carried out by video call.
However, the certificate provider may carry out their conversation by phone or video call, provided that this call is private. This conversation is required to ensure that the person understands the LPA and is not under any undue pressure to make it, so the certificate provider must speak to the person on their own.
You may not be aware that there is an online service for making and registering LPAs (Make a lasting power of attorney - GOV.UK), which is often quicker than dealing with the application by post. Given that LPAs can take at least a few months to be completed and registered, this service is useful to reduce delays.
How can Tozers help?
If you are considering making an LPA, or if you are already appointed as an attorney and would like some advice on your role, please contact our specialist solicitors today.