Once you have completed your lasting power of attorney forms, you must sign them, along with attorneys, replacement attorneys, witnesses and your certificate provider, before you can register them.
Signing should take place as soon as possible after you have made the LPA. You don’t know when you might lose mental capacity. While it may seem that you are planning for later life in plenty of time, accidents and unforeseen illnesses can remove your mental capacity (even temporarily) meaning that you can neither sign your LPA nor have your wishes in it followed.
Provided that you signed an LPA while you had mental capacity, it can be registered after you lose capacity by your attorneys. However, we would reccomend not leaving registration until you have lost mental capacity for two reasons:
First, if there are mistakes on the form, or if it has not been signed and witnessed correctly, then it is likely to be rejected. Having lost capacity, you won't be able to make another LPA.
Second, between the period of applying for and receiving confirmation of registration (which can take up to ten weeks), your attorneys will not be able to act on your behalf. You may need urgent medical care early on after losing capacity (such as if you have a stroke that partially paralyses you) or you may need access to finances (to pay day to day living expenses). If your LPA is in the process of being registered, your attorneys will not have the power to help you.
So we recommend registering the forms immediately after signing them so as to be able to correct mistakes on them and to be able to receive help from the day you need it.
The process of signing doesn’t always seem straightforward because you need each person to sign in the correct order.
Who can witness each section of the LPA
Each signature on the LPA form, as well as the date of signature, must be witnessed by someone.
The signatures of attorneys, in theory, can be witnessed by the other attorneys you have chosen. However, because it would be more difficult to challenge a claim of undue influence if attorneys do act as witness for each other, it is always best to use completely unrelated third parties such as friends or neighbours to act as witnesses for the attorneys.
Attorneys cannot witness the donor’s signature (that of the person making the LPA).
All witnesses must be over 18 years of age.
The certificate provider can be a witness to the donor’s signature, and is often the best choice, since he or she must be present to certify the LPA anyway.
Order of signing
The donor signs first.
There may be multiple places to sign, including in Section 9 of the form and on any additional continuation sheets if extra space was required to record all the wishes.
The witness to the donor’s signature signs next (usually the certificate provider).
Then the certificate provider completes Section 10.
The attorneys and replacement attorneys can then sign Section 11 in any order. Each person needs to complete this section individually.
The witness to the attorneys’ signatures then signs.
If you appoint two attorneys and two replacements, there will be seven or more people required to sign. Arranging for all these people to be in the same place can be very difficult.
It is best if everyone can come together on the same day. However, that may not be possible.
You can split the process into two by having the donor sign in front of the certificate provider on one day, then having attorneys and replacement attorneys sign on another day.
If you can’t bring all attorneys and replacements together simultaneously, then they can sign at different times, provided there is someone to witness them doing so.
Should you complete the details of witnesses on the LPA form before they sign?
The donor can complete the name and address of the witness in advance of him or her signing. However, we recommend that you do not do so, simply because on the day itself, you might have a different witness to the one you expected to have. It doesn’t take long for the witness to complete his or her details.
Making amendments and corrections
During the LPA registration process, the Office of the Public Guardian can be very strict when considering any amendments or corrections to an LPA in order to make sure fraud is not committed. Often, the best way of making corrections or changes is to complete a new copy of the page.
If you wish to make very minor changes, such as those to spelling mistakes, you can cross through the error on the form and write the correct wording next to it. Amendments should be initialled by the person who made them and the witness to his or her signature.
Once an LPA has been registered, amendments are not allowed. If you want to make any, you have to complete the forms afresh and register them again (at cost).