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With Coronavirus having such a profound impact on society as a whole, more and more people are seeking to have Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) set up as part of their estate planning services. The threat that COVID-19 represents to the lives of so many ‘at risk’ groups has led to the mass isolation of so many across the country.
And many from this group may find themselves needing to rely on friends and family members to act on their behalf when it comes to dealing with their finances by fulfilling the role of executor of estate.
The problem is…
It currently takes 8-10 weeks to have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) registered and this is a time-frame that is looking very much like it will increase because of the pandemic that is causing such chaos to many people’s lives.
So, What can Wise Will & Trusts Do to Help?
Well, the best way we are able to assist you is by “Doubling up” which involves drafting a second GENERAL (a.k.a. ‘ORDINARY’) Power of Attorney. This occurs at the same time as the application for the registration of your LPA is submitted and takes place whilst waiting for it to be registered. It does add to the cost of making a will, but it’s certainly worth it.
The benefit of this is that you are then able to immediately provide your attorney with the authority to act on your behalf. You won’t have to wait for the LPA to be registered and returned from the OPG as you would otherwise need to.
What Does a General Power of Attorney(GPA) Do for You?
A GPA allows one or more people (known as the attorney(s)) to make financial decisions on your behalf. However, this is only valid while you still have the mental capacity to make your own decisions. A General Power of Attorney is useful when:
- You need someone to act for you for a temporary period e.g. when on holiday, when staying in hospital or because you’re currently having to self-isolate.
- You are unable to get out to the bank or post office and want someone to be able to access your account(s) for you
- You want someone to act for you while you’re still able to supervise your actions
A GPA can make things much less complicated for you when you’re physically unable to deal with your financial affairs whilst you’re mentally still capable of doing so.
In order for your General Power of Attorney to be ratified, it will need to be signed by the donor (you) in the presence of an independent witness (NOT an attorney) such as a friend, neighbour or relative.
The current isolation rules that are in place do present certain difficulties in achieving this, however, while we wait for the law to be changed, there are few workarounds that can help you remain compliant. They include having your documents witnessed by a friend or neighbour:
- Over the garden fence
- Through a window
- At the end of a drive
However it’s done, as long as everyone stays the relevant distance away from each other and everyone can see each other, the document is deemed to be valid. It’s an imperfect solution, however, that’s what’s often called for in imperfect situations.
Better Safe than Sorry
Without wanting to overplay the situation, it is a dangerous time for everyone, especially for those classed as vulnerable to the disease. If the worst were to happen, an LPA would allow important decisions to be made on your behalf, whereas if you don’t have one, matters can very much get taken out of the hands of the people you most trust and the whole process can become drawn out and costly.
If you’d like to talk to our expert team about arranging either an LPA or a GPA, give us a call on 01491 598005 and they’ll talk you through all of your options. Alternatively, if you’d like to find out more about the full range of legal services we offer at Wise Will & Trusts, visit us online at www.wisewillandtrusts.co.uk and take a look around.
In uncertain times like these, it certainly does pay to have a ‘Better safe than sorry’ attitude towards your financial affairs. With our help, you can be very much in the ‘safe’ category.