Will My Role Of Deputy Or Attorney Change Because Of Social Distancing Restrictions?

The world is currently living through a ‘new normal’ which involves us distancing ourselves from others outside our immediate household.

When we are told to remain two metres apart from each other and only leave home for essential work, shopping or exercise, it becomes difficult to understand how we will fulfil our daily obligations without breaking government guidelines.

For those acting as an attorney or deputy for protected members of society, these services are still crucial and should continue to be carried out if possible.

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has advised all deputies and attorneys in England and Wales to continue acting for their vulnerable or protected person (P).

They further advise that during the coronavirus outbreak, the roles and responsibilities of deputies and attorneys remain the same, even if they are in isolation or shielding themselves.

OPG guidance insists that all decisions can only be made by the appointed individual and if a deputy or attorney intend to retain their role after the outbreak is under control and things return to a level of normality, they must continue their role in the present as well.

What If I Am Impacted By Covid-19?

Attorneys or deputies who have been forced to self-isolate or shield because they have either had Covid-19 or are protecting themselves from it, do not need to give up their role if they are unable to visit the protected person or carry out their tasks in person. Remote working is acceptable in the current circumstances.

If a deputy or attorney feel as though they are unable to complete their duties, the OPG highlight that their role can be permanently disclaimed and a court-appointed alternative can permanently replace the current representative.

However, this is a huge step which will go against the express wishes of the protected person. If you are able to continue, you should.

What if I need to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) During lockdown?

Many vulnerable people may need additional support during these uncertain times. If you feel as though you need an LPA in the weeks and months ahead, registrations are still being granted.

However, social distancing restrictions will make it more difficult. All LPAs require witnessing; a difficult feat when we are all confined to our homes. The OPG has advised against home visits with all forms being posted to signatories. It also suggests organising neighbours to witness a signature over a garden fence or through a window.

The guidance also looks at other measures that can be taken if an LPA is proving too difficult to obtain or whilst you are waiting for the LPA to be registered. A general power of attorney can be obtained in order for all financial affairs to be considered whilst the protected person still has capacity. Similarly, a third-party mandate will authorise a sponsored person to carry out all transactions on P’s behalf until the LPA is registered.


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