The Office of the Public Guardian has released guidance about making and registering a lasting power of attorney (LPA) during the coronavirus pandemic.
The comprehensive guidance on the GOV.UK website discusses whether now is the best time to make an LPA, how to make an LPA, and signing and witnessing it during the current situation.
The new guidance offers advice on making an LPA if no delay is possible, while still observing government guidance on social distancing, self-isolating and shielding, suggesting ways to have the LPA signed and witnessed without entering another's house.
It recommends posting the LPA to the people who need to sign it or, if living nearby, taking the LPA to the people who need to sign while always keeping at least two metres apart and washing hands before and after handling the LPA.
An LPA must be an original document printed out and signed by hand with a black pen, because no digital signatures nor scanned and photocopied pages can be registered.
With regard to witnessing the donor's and attorney's signatures, the guidance reads 'A neighbour can witness a signature, for example, on the doorstep or over the garden fence…A signature can also be witnessed through a closed window.'
The guidance advises that signatures can only be witnessed in person and not over video calls, such as Skype or FaceTime.
Certificate providers must talk to the donor about the LPA to ensure the donor understands it and is not being pressured to make it. This normally takes place face to face, but in the current circumstances, the guidance suggests that this happens by private phone or video call.
All other usual processes and regulations remain, including the LPA being signed in the correct order and all pages of the original LPA document, not scans or photocopies, being sent.
For full guidance on making and registering an LPA, visit https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-and-registering-an-lpa-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak