With so many cut price unqualified outfits now offering “legal services” it’s surprising that real solicitors can keep going if they don’t know what they are doing. Somehow, some do. We had a cracking example last month.
A local lady got in touch with us to explain that mother was appointing her attorney within an LPA and she needed to make an appointment with a solicitor to witness her signature and certify her identity.
We are used to people contacting us about the ‘need for a solicitor to witness their signature’. The actual requirement can be for one of a number of things from detailed advice on a guarantee liability or occupiers rights to a simple oath or statutory declaration.
Sometimes it’s just the witnessing of well, the signature of an attorney on an LPA. That can of course be anybody other than the donor or an attorney. It doesn’t need a solicitor.
Nor, as far as I and two of my better qualified colleagues are aware, is there any need at all for the witness – solicitor or otherwise – to obtain and certify identification of the signatory.
So, we were curious, and asked to see a copy of the letter from mother’s solicitor….
Sure enough, it stipulated that a solicitor would need to complete an ID1 which, for those who aren’t familiar with it, is a standard form of identification questionnaire typically used in connection with land registration applications and which requires amongst other things a certified photograph to be attached.
The point is, it’s not a two-minute job and even with the various elements divided efficiently between support staff and lawyer, it’s a time-consuming task for which we like others generally charge a few quid.
In this case, we haven’t charged anything for explaining to the local lady that she doesn’t need to come and spend money with us going through all this rigmarole. She doesn’t need us to witness her signature either.
What she does need to do is ask the solicitors acting for her mother to also review their requirements for signature of the LPA…
Inspection of their letter and enclosure reveals that only one page of the LPA has been sent to the attorney. It’s not difficult to see why this poses a problem. All one has to do is read that page of the document and the bold statement above the signature boxes which declares that:
By signing this section I understand and confirm all of the following:-
I have read this lasting power of attorney (LPA) including section 8 ‘your legal rights and responsibilities’, or I have had it read to me.
Well, as far as we know, the document has not been read over the telephone to our local lady and why would it be, when one can do as we do and post the entire LPA to the person who needs to read it and then sign – after the donor and the certificate provider have signed, not before.
There may be a further clue in the requirement that our lady should sign but “please ensure that the form is not dated”.
I have seen this done a few times, too. The inference always to be drawn is that the signatures may not happen in any particular order but if all the dates are left blank then those can be filled in afterwards, to ensure an appearance of compliance.
Compliance in that respect is important. There’s a strict sequence set out in regulation 9 of the LPA Regulations 2007. A letter such as the one we saw will cast doubt on the validity of the LPA, probably when it’s too late to fix the problem.
So, as they say in our beloved Eurovision, it’s nul points for this bunch of ‘experts’. They probably deserve to be named but I am not that unkind. Just be on your guard if you are in the South Bucks area.
Simple stuff, badly done.