27/03/2020

Double-up on Power of Attorney to beat Coronavirus (COVID-19) delays | Wills and Estates

A couple having a meeting with a man in a shirt and tie

Families seeking to help manage the affairs of a loved one during self-isolation should “double-up” Power of Attorney documents to beat COVID-19 delays.

Sam Thornton, an Associate Solicitor in the Wills and Estates department at Thursfields, was commenting on the likelihood that the current timing of eight to ten weeks to get a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) registered will increase because of the pandemic.

One solution would be to get a second general or ordinary Power of Attorney solution drafted at the same time as the LPA, giving attorneys the authority to act while they wait for the latter to be registered.

Sam said: “An LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before it can be used.

“Our advice is to register the LPA as soon as it has been signed in order that it is ready to be used as soon as it is needed.

“The problem is that the current timing to get an LPA registered is eight to ten weeks from the application being made, and the current health crisis means this is only going to get longer.

“What we would advise, therefore, is that at the same time as preparing an LPA for a client we can draft a general or ordinary Power of Attorney.

“This document can only be used with the consent of the donor and whilst they have capacity. However, it will provide the attorneys with authority to act whilst they wait for the LPA to be returned registered from the OPG.”

Sam explained that in order to accommodate government guidance on social distancing during the pandemic he and colleagues are now taking initial instructions by FaceTime and Skype.

This was necessary, he said, to assess the person’s capacity, and to ensure they were not being put under any undue influence.

Once that initial virtual meeting has taken place, the remainder of the process could be completed by phone and email if needed, with the various anti-money laundering processes carried out via technology supplied by Thirdfort.

Sam added: “The Power of Attorney is a deed so will need to be signed by the donor in the presence of an independent witness.  A certificate provider and witness is also required for the LPA.

“The same person can perform all three roles provided they are not related to the donor or the attorneys, are over 18 and have known the donor personally for at least two years, such as a friend, neighbour, colleague or former colleague.”

For more information about Power of Attorney, contact Thursfields on 0345 207 3728 or email info@thursfields.co.uk.

Samuel Thornton

Sam Thornton,

Associate Solicitor, Wills & Estates

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