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Signing your Lasting Power of Attorney safely and legally: Practical steps during the Coronavirus crisis

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Continuing the theme of safe execution of legal documents during the Coronavirus crisis, I thought it would be useful if we were to remind ourselves of how Lasting Powers of Attorney are signed and how we can continue to complete these essential documents accurately during lockdown.

Remind me what a Lasting Power of Attorney is?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’) is a legal document that allows you to give one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) authority to make decisions on your behalf.

There are two types of LPA:

1. Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs; this allows attorneys to make decisions on your behalf about your property and financial affairs, for example paying bills, selling your property, and administering your bank account.

2. Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare; subject to any restrictions you include in the document, this allows attorneys to make decisions in relation to medical treatment, care, medication, where you live, and even life sustaining treatment.

These LPAs are two separate documents. You can complete one document on its own or both at the same time.

Once completed and registered, each LPA provides the best way to ensure that somebody you trust is authorised to make decisions for you and carry out your wishes should you no longer wish to or no longer be able to make such decisions yourself.

More detailed information can be found in our guidance sheet. 

How do you sign an LPA?

An LPA is signed by the donor (the person making the LPA) and the attorneys in the presence of an independent adult witness. The LPA must be signed in the correct order to be valid.  Both types of LPA must also be signed by an independent certificate provider.

An independent person must complete and sign a certificate in both forms of LPA to confirm that, in

their opinion, you are making the LPA of your own free will and that you understand its purpose and scope and the powers you are giving your attorneys. This is an important safeguard and your LPA cannot be registered unless the certificate is completed.

A lawyer, a GP or another professional with the relevant skills can act as certificate provider, although there may be a charge for this service from any professional. Alternatively, someone who has known you for over 2 years can act as certificate provider in certain circumstances.

The correct order to sign your LPA is as follows:

How can this be adapted to social distancing?

We would suggest that the following precautions could be taken to ensure that you sign your LPA safely during the COVID-19 lockdown:

The Donor should use the checklist at the back of the LPA to check that they have completed the document correctly, before lodging the LPA for registration with the Office of the Public Guardian.

If you need advice on putting an LPA in place, or assistance with preparing and LPA and what to include in the LPA, please contact the Private Client team.

Disclaimer: Anything posted on this blog is for general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any general or specific matter. Please refer to our terms and conditions for further information. Please contact the author of the blog if you would like to discuss the issues raised.