As we have heard many times recently in the news, we are in unprecedented times. We have been told by the Government of the need to stay at home, only venturing out when absolutely necessary. A number of people have also been advised to take this a step further, and isolate themselves for 12 weeks. This was all unthinkable only weeks ago. So what can you do to ensure your property and finances are still dealt with during this period if you do not have anything in place already?
Under a Power of Attorney, you (the donor) gives someone (an attorney) the power to act on your behalf. There are two types of Powers of Attorney which you can make:
1. An Ordinary Power of Attorney; and
2. Lasting Powers of Attorney.
In the short term, an Ordinary Power of Attorney could be prepared, to enable someone to deal with your bank, building society or other financial institutions on your behalf. The document is created by deed, which means that you would need to sign the document and your signature would need to be witnessed. Once the Ordinary Power of Attorney has been duly signed it can be used immediately. An Ordinary Power of Attorney comes to an end if the donor loses mental capacity or dies, although you can limit the power by stating a specific duration.
For longer term planning, you should consider making Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs), of which there are two types: one dealing with your property and financial affairs, and the other dealing with your health and personal welfare. LPAs differ from Ordinary Powers of Attorney in that they can continue to be used even if you lose mental capacity.
Both you and your attorney(s) would need to sign the LPA. There also needs to be someone, a certificate provider, who confirms that you have the capacity to make the LPAs. This can either be someone who has known you for two years or a professional such as your GP or a solicitor. LPAs cannot be used unless they have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). The OPG have a target timescale for registration of LPAs of 40 days, but we do not know whether this will be extended given the current lock down measures.