Need help? Call 0345 838 4074 Register Login

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Powers of attorney and coronavirus

In this section you'll find information and updates related to coronavirus that are relevant to the law on powers of attorney.

The UK's response to coronavirus is changing regularly and often very quickly. While we'll continue to make every effort to keep this page up to date, there may be short periods where what you read here is not the latest information available. Where possible we've tried to provide links to official government resources, so you can check the current situation.

Registering powers of attorney

The impact of COVID on service delivery in the public sector is still evident. It may take longer to register powers of attorney or get a response to queries.

England & Wales

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) is experiencing delays in registering lasting powers of attorney.

Scotland

In Scotland, the OPG is also experiencing delays in registering continuing and/or welfare powers of attorney. You can get an idea of the current timescales by viewing their latest update for PoAs to be processed this week.

However, they do have an expedited registration service available for urgent powers of attorney: you'll need to complete an Expedited PoA registration request form.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the Office of Care and Protection is again processing and registering enduring powers of attorney, but are having difficulties dealing with queries.

Signing powers of attorneys

Self-isolation could make it more difficult to follow the correct procedure for signing powers of attorney and other official documents. This may be a problem if the need for a power of attorney is particularly urgent.

England & Wales

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) must be signed by the donor in the presence of one witness (if you – the donor – are signing it yourself), or two witnesses (if someone is signing on your behalf). As soon as possible after that, the person certifying that you still have mental capacity (the certificate provider) must sign the certificate on the LPA form. Then each attorney must sign in the presence of a witness.

Any witnessing of signatures via video calls (e.g. Skype, Zoom, Facetime, etc) will not comply with the strict signature requirements for LPAs. Electronic signatures are also not currently allowed.

Finding a certificate provider while self-isolating might also be a challenge as this person cannot be a member of your family and must be someone that has known you for at least 2 years or has a relevant professional qualification. The certificate provider has to certify that you understand the scope and purpose of the LPA and that there is no undue pressure on you to make it. If they're able to do this via a video call, this would be acceptable. You would still need to get the physical LPA form to them for them to sign.

If the delay won't cause a problem, it'll be much easier for you to wait until after your self-isolation period has ended before trying to sign your LPA.

Scotland

The Law Society of Scotland has an article on their website (under 'Practice updates', scroll down to 'Power of attorney') in which they set out the best practice for signing powers of attorney during the pandemic. It confirms that signing would be possible via video calls if certain conditions are met.

Again, though, it's always better to sign in the usual way if you're able to.

What is the law guide

The Desktop Lawyer law guide aims to present the law to you in a comprehensive yet jargon-free and easy-to-read format. Our law guide is constantly kept up to date with changes in business and family law by our team of in house solicitors, and includes information across all the legal jurisdictions in the UK.

Our law guide is free to use. Where we provide documents related to this area of law, or where they may help you with any legal issue in this area, they will be listed to the right of this message.

Our use of cookies

We use necessary cookies to make our site work. We would also like to set some optional cookies. We won't set these optional cookies unless you enable them. Please choose whether this site may use optional cookies by selecting 'On' or 'Off' for each category below. Using this tool will set a cookie on your device to remember your preferences.

For more detailed information about the cookies we use, see our Cookie notice.

Necessary cookies

Necessary cookies enable core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility. You may disable these by changing your browser settings, but this may affect how the website functions.

Performance cookies

We'd like to set cookies to help us to improve our website by collecting and reporting information on how you use it. For more information on these cookies, please see our Cookie notice. The cookies collect information in an anonymous form. Data is only used in aggregate.

Functionality cookies

We'd like to set cookies to provide you with a better customer experience. For more information on these cookies, please see our Cookie notice.