Social distancing measures introduced to combat the Covid-19 outbreak have made the previously straight forward task of putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) one that requires much more thought.
Pro bono clients regularly ask us for assistance with LPAs. Unless it is urgent, clients may want to delay making their LPA until social distancing measures have become less restrictive.
Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, however, many clients who are at higher risk of becoming unable to deal with their affairs require an LPA without delay.
If someone wants to make an LPA now, they can still do so while adhering to social distancing guidelines.
Signing an LPA
Like other legal documents, completing an LPA is still a paper exercise. Although the document can be prepared electronically, it is compulsory for the parties signing an LPA to do so in person using a wet signature. Digital signatures are not acceptable.
In light of measures introduced to combat Covid-19, people required to sign the LPA, including donors, attorneys, certificate providers and witnesses, must do so while observing social distancing rules. They cannot gather together as they would have done previously to complete the document.
It is important to remember that everyone must sign the same original document. The LPA can be posted to a signee, and if people who need to sign live within walking distance of each other, they can deliver the LPA by hand. Everyone must remember to keep at least two metres apart and wash their hands before and after handling the LPA.
A witness must watch the donor signing the LPA and then sign it themselves to say they have witnessed the signature. Similarly, each attorney’s signature must be witnessed. A friend or neighbour can do this at a distance outside the house. A signature can be witnessed through a closed window.
Someone who the donor or attorney lives with can witness their signature, as long as that person is not a party to the LPA. However, if the donor appoints more than one attorney and those attorneys live together, they can witness each other’s signatures.
Witnesses must be shown blank signature/date boxes before they are completed by the person signing the LPA. They must have a clear view of the person signing and then be shown the completed signature/date boxes before signing in their capacity as witness. Signatures must be witnessed in person – video calls are not acceptable.
A certificate provider is an impartial person who confirms that the donor understands what they are doing and that nobody is forcing them to make an LPA. If possible, they should discuss the LPA with the donor in private, without attorneys or other people present, before they sign their part of the LPA. The certificate provider must ensure the donor understands their LPA and is not being put under any undue pressure. This conversation normally happens face-to-face, but this can be done over the phone or via video call instead.
This article was written by our Paralegal Ralph Johnson.
The Legal Service – We are here to help
The Legal Service, delivered by our pro bono team, provides patients with advice without obligation, for however long it takes to resolve the issue. Our support is available regardless of the circumstances of an accident and regardless of whether a patient has a personal injury claim.
In these difficult times, the concerns of our pro bono clients are likely to be more stark than those in more fortunate circumstances. The Legal Service will be available throughout the crisis to help in any way we can to ease the burden on our clients.
To get advice from The Legal Service, please contact Kara Smith by phone on 020 7822 8000 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find further information regarding our injury expertise, experience and team on our Personal Injury pages.
Covid-19 is impacting individuals and companies around the world in an unprecedented way. We have collected insights here to help you navigate the key legal issues you may be facing at this time.
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