Not as simple as you might think: invoking an LPA

 25 May 2023
Not as simple as you might think: invoking an LPA

Hopefully, everyone in your family aged over 18 has already created two of the most important documents for their future life: a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). Ideally each person should have two:

  • A health and welfare LPA
  • A property and financial LPA

Your original, signed LPAs will probably be stored with the solicitor or professional who helped you draw it up, or in a safe place with one of the attorneys. The LPAs will also be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

Ready for when you need it

One of the key benefits of a Lasting Power of Attorney is that it just sits there until such time as it needs to be “switched on”, aka invoked.

You might want to invoke it yourself for certain activities such as banking and selling a home if you feel your capacity to look after your own affairs is diminishing.

For others, you may see the need coming over the horizon as an elderly parent or relative experiences cognitive decline, or a family member has an ongoing serious illness.

Or you may have absolutely no warning at all. A medical emergency may arise, and you as a named attorney and/or family member need to invoke the LPA quickly to ensure that:

  • Health and welfare attorneys can take medical and related decisions on behalf of the donor (the person who the LPA is for)
  • The property and financial attorneys (not necessarily the same people) can ensure the donor’s estate and finances are looked after as well

How do you ‘switch on’ an LPA?

At a simple level, all you need to do is say that you have Lasting Power of Attorney for that person. Then you need to prove it. As the gov website states:

“Any organisation you deal with on behalf of the donor can ask you to prove you’re the attorney. You can:

- show them the original LPA

- show them a certified copy of the LPA

- give them access to view an online summary of the LPA”

The organisation may also require you to prove your identity and more details on the donor, such as their name and current address.

More than one attorney?

If the LPA has more than one attorney, it’s important you keep in touch with each other. Should the LPA be invoked, every attorney should be available to help should the need arise.

As the NHS website explains:

“You can appoint just 1 attorney, or more than 1 attorney, to act:

- “jointly" – they must always make decisions together

- “jointly and severally" – they have to make some decisions together and some individually”

Don’t post the original signed LPAs!

If you have the LPAs in your care, whatever you do, don’t post the originals! Organisations get sent thousands of documents a week, and whilst most find their way back safely, an original signed LPA is just too precious to send, in our opinion.

It’s a little-known fact that in order to release an LPA, a solicitor will need authorisation before they hand it over. As Hampshire solicitors BakerLaw state on their website:

“The original LPA or certified copies will only be released by us to the attorney(s) named in the LPA(s) if the attorney(s) have a letter of consent from the donor (the person who made the LPA), or a letter from the donor's GP/medical professional confirming that the donor no longer has capacity to give such consent.”

Solicitors may also require consent from all attorneys to release copies. So, getting your hands on the originals or even just certified copies could take considerable time.

Get ready now

So that you don’ get caught out, here’s what to do NOW:

  • Get/make a set of certified copies


  • Register for online access code viewing

Read on for how to do both.

Donor self-certification

If the person who is named on the LPA is capable of making their own decisions, they can certify printed copies / photocopies of the LPA themselves. They must use a specific wording and write it at the bottom of every page, as outlined in this gov page.

Certified copies made by a solicitor or notary

It is often easier to ask the solicitor or professional holding the originals to make certified copies on your behalf. That way, the original never leaves their care, and each attorney can have a copy or two to use as they need. Attorneys then don’t need to worry about whether a certified copy is returned by organisations in a timely fashion or not.

A solicitor will charge for this certification service, with the going rate about £25 a copy. Remember, each certified copy can be used multiple times.

Online digital service for LPAs

The good news is that many organisations won’t need sight of a physical document if you sign up with the online service “Use a Lasting Power of Attorney”.

As the AgeUK website explains:

“The online service … gives you and your attorney(s) access to a digital version of the LPA on an online account with a secure access code. This allows people or organisations like banks to check that the LPA is valid. This might be used by your attorney, for example, to confirm to your bank that they are acting on your behalf with a valid LPA.”

How old is your LPA?

The date your LPA was signed is important.

  • If you made your LPAs after 17 July 2020, you’ll already have an activation key on your confirmation letter/s telling you the LPAs had been registered.
  • If the LPAs were registered before 1 January 2016, you’ll need to create an account and get an activation key. You’ll need the LPA reference number to sign up.

You can discover more about the online service “Use a lasting power of attorney” at the gov website.

New LPAs

The government is planning to update and modernise the whole LPA process, as announced a year ago:

“Under the proposals, people will be able to make an LPA completely online for the first time – bringing it in line with other government services such as applying for a divorce. The current paper-based system will continue to operate meaning people can choose an accessible process that’s best for their specific needs.”

The Powers of Attorney Bill is, at time of writing, in its second reading in the House of Lords.You can read more about the planned updates in our blog “Easier, simpler and more secure: new legislation for Lasting Power of Attorney”

Need help with your LPA?

Contact us at Panthera Estate Planning for help to create your LPAs, or for further information on making changes to your LPA.

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