It is still possible to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) while observing Government guidance on social distancing, self-isolating and shielding.
Making a lasting power of attorney (LPA) is an important decision that you should think about carefully. An LPA needs to be signed and witnessed by several people. Once the LPA has been signed, you need to send it to the Government for registration. It may then be around 8 weeks before you get the registered LPA back and can start using it. This includes a 4 week waiting period required by law.
The Government are working hard to continue registering LPAs and keep everyone doing the work safe. However, due to the impact of COVID-19 they say it might take longer than normal to register LPAs. Please continue to check their coronavirus response page for updates. You can still make an LPA during this time. There are other ways people can make decisions for you that are quicker to get in place. These may be useful while you’re waiting for an LPA to be registered or if you’re self-isolating and need someone to carry out bank transactions for you.
How do I make an LPA during the COVID-19 outbreak?
If you need to make an LPA now, you can still do so while observing government guidance on social distancing, self-isolating and shielding.
The guidance was updated in May 2020. Please check back regularly, for further updates.
You must read this guidance alongside the standard guidance on making an LPA.
This guidance is for people in England and Wales only. There is separate guidance for people in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Signing and witnessing the LPA
Because of the current social distancing rules, you should not go into anyone else’s house to get them to sign the LPA or ask anyone to come into your house. Instead use other ways to get the LPA signed and witnessed.
For example, you can post the LPA to the people who need to sign it.
If they live within walking distance, you could take the LPA to the people who need to sign. However, you must:
- keep at least 2 metres away from each other at all times
- wash your hands before and after handling the LPA
- use digital signatures – the document must be printed out and signed by hand with a black pen
- send people photocopies or scans of the LPA to sign – everyone must sign the same, original document
- ask people to send you a scan or photocopy of the page they’ve signed – we cannot register an LPA that includes scans or copied pages
Witnessing the donor and attorneys’ signatures
Someone must watch the donor signing the LPA, then sign it themselves to say they’ve witnessed the signature. Each attorney and replacement attorney’s signature must also be witnessed.
A neighbour can witness a signature, for example, on the doorstep or over the garden fence. Remember to keep at least 2 metres apart. A signature can also be witnessed through a closed window.
Someone the donor lives with can witness their signature, as long as that person:
- is aged 18 or over
- has mental capacity
- is not an attorney or replacement attorney on the LPA
Someone an attorney lives with can witness their signature, as long as that person:
- is aged 18 or over
- has mental capacity
- is not the donor on the LPA
If there’s more than 1 attorney and they live together, they can witness each other’s signatures.
Rules on witnessing
The witness must:
- be shown the blank signature and date box before they’re signed
- have a clear view of the person signing the LPA, so they can see the signature being made
- be shown the completed signature and date box immediately afterwards
Do not witness signatures over video calls, such as Skype or FaceTime. Signatures must be witnessed in person.
If the donor cannot sign the LPA
If the donor is not able to use a pen and cannot sign the LPA, someone else can sign on their behalf.
The donor and 2 other people must be there in person to witness the signature being made. The 2 witnesses must also sign the LPA.
All the rules on witnessing above apply.
Make sure the LPA is signed in the right order
It’s very important that the LPA is signed in the right order. If it’s not, we cannot register it. The donor may have to make a new LPA, get it signed again, and pay another application fee.
The certificate provider and donor conversation
The certificate provider must talk to the donor about the LPA to make sure the donor understands it and is not being pressured to make it.
Often this conversation happens face-to-face. At the moment you may want to think about using a phone or video call instead. The certificate provider should make sure the call is private.
Think carefully about who should be sent the registered LPA
When you make an LPA, you’ll be asked to say who will be the ‘correspondent’. This is the person we’ll send the registered LPA to.
If you think you might need to use the LPA very soon after it’s registered, think carefully about who should be the correspondent to make sure the person who needs it has access to it.
Organisations, such as banks and care homes, will want to see this original registered LPA when an attorney wants to make decisions on the donor’s behalf.
If you do not have access to a printer
You can ask a friend or family member to print the forms and post them to you.
You can also ask us to post you the LPA application forms. Our telephone number is: 0300 456 0300
How you can help the Government register your LPA as quickly as possible
- Use their online service to make the LPA and pay the application fee by card rather than cheque.
- If the donor and attorney have email addresses, include them on the LPA form. This will make it much quicker if they need to be contacted
- Double check your forms before sending them in. Avoid common mistakes, by making sure:
When you post your LPA to the Governement and when you’re waiting for the registered LPA to be posted back, please bear in mind that the postal service may be slower than usual. You can see service updates on the Royal Mail website.