The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has published updated guidance on making a lasting power of attorney and acting as an attorney or deputy while following social distancing rules.
It will continue to deliver its services and support those who are planning for the future and at most risk in society.
Dee Benians, in the wills and probate team outlines the key points of the guidance:
Lasting power of attorney applications
The OPG will continue to process and register lasting power of attorney applications. It aims to complete these within 40 working days, but over the coming weeks it may start to take longer.
Making and registering a lasting power of attorney during the coronavirus outbreak
Making a lasting power of attorney is an important decision that you should think about carefully. A lasting power of attorney needs to be signed and witnessed by several people, but we can advise you on how this can be achieved in line with the latest OPG guidance.
Short-term options for health, welfare and financial decisions
A lasting power of attorney takes time to register, but there are other ways people can make certain decisions for you in the short term that are quicker to put in place. We can advise you on your options.
Safeguarding assessments and investigations
The OPG will endeavour to carry out a risk assessment of all new safeguarding referrals within two working days and to complete investigations within 70 working days. The most serious and significant safeguarding risks are being prioritised at this time.
In accordance with recent government advice, all travel relating to OPG visiting work will be reduced and where appropriate phone calls may replace face–to–face visiting.
Deputies, donors and attorneys scheduled for a visit will be contacted by the OPG visitor with an update.
Being a deputy or attorney during the coronavirus outbreak
During the coronavirus outbreak, your role and responsibilities as a deputy or attorney remain the same. However, you must follow government guidance on social distancing, self-isolation and shielding.
Professional deputies are appointed by the Court of Protection to make decisions for someone who does not have the mental capacity to make decisions themselves. They will continue in this role during the outbreak.
Professional deputies can sometimes be classed as key workers, but only when they are actively doing something to help the person they are deputy for. For example, when attending a hearing or making a decision on the person’s behalf.
NHS and social services staff: check if a patient has an attorney or deputy
NHS and social services staff can contact the OPG to check if a COVID-19 patient has an attorney or deputy. It aims to respond within 24 hours, Monday to Friday.
For further information on registering a lasting power of attorney, please contact Dee Benians in our private client team in Heathfield, East Sussex on 01435 890 101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since the date this article was published.