There comes a time when an Attorney will need to start using the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to gain authority to represent the Donor.  The best option is to first activate the Lasting Power of Attorney using the Government Use a Lasting Power of Attorney service. This means that you can send a digital code instead of a paper copy.

Currently, you can only use the activation service for LPAs registered from 1 January 2016 but, the Office of the Public Guardian is working on expanding this to earlier years.  Activation is a very simple process and well worth the effort of converting a paper copy to digital.

Activation not registration

Sometimes there is some confusion over what ‘activation’ means.  The LPA firstly needs to be registered, once the LPA has been registered you can then activate it to be able to use the digital service.  So, activation means that you can send a code to an organisation so they can view the LPA online.

Digital v paper copy

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has been busy digitising the Lasting Power of Attorney documentation.  The following dates decide whether you can use a digitised copy, whether you can convert a paper copy to digital or whether you still have to use a paper copy:


17 July 2020 If your LPA was registered on or after this date, your activation key will be contained in the letter you received from the OPG telling you that the LPA has been registered.
1 January 2016 – after If the LPA was registered on or after this date, you can use this service to ask for a new or replacement activation key. You’ll need the LPA reference number.
1 January 2016 – before If the LPA was registered before this date, you’ll need to show the paper LPA to people or organisations instead.


The Government has created the Use a Lasting Power of Attorney service that can be used by either an Attorney or Donor to:

  • allow people or organisations to view a summary of an LPA
  • keep track of which people or organisations have been given access to an LPA
  • view an LPA summary
  • see how people named on the LPA are using the service
  • ask for an activation key if they have not been given one
  • replace the activation key if theirs is lost or expired

You can only use this service for an LPA that’s registered in England and Wales.  The government has now also created the View an LPA service.

You’ll need to create an account the first time you use this service. Then, to add an LPA to your account or view an LPA, you’ll need both:

  • the LPA reference number
  • your activation key

Preferences and instructions

The OPG has recently added a scan of the preferences and instructions to the digital version.  This is one of the main reasons why banks and other institutions won’t accept the digital version.  There is now no excuse but, it remains to be seen whether they will still require a paper copy.

Beginner’s Guide to Lasting Power of Attorney

For general guidance on Lasting Power of Attorney see: The Beginner’s Guide to Power of Attorney


It is relatively simple to use the OPG activation service but not all institutions will accept the online version (See Digital Service for using the LPA).   Some organisations, especially banks and financial institutions, will still require you to provide a paper copy. If they do want a paper copy DO NOT send the original unless you absolutely have to, send a certified copy instead.  It is an extremely important document and will take weeks to be replaced. In the meantime, you will have no way of proving that you are the Attorney. If you do lose it, you will have to obtain an official ‘office copy’ from the OPG at a cost of £35.

Certified copies

You can also have a certified copy made, allowing you to send the certified copy instead of the original. To get a certified copy you will need to ask a solicitor or notary but only if the Donor has lost capacity. If the Donor still has capacity, they can certify the copy themselves. There is a specific format for this:

How to certify a copy of the LPA:

Write the following text on the bottom of every page of the copy:

‘I certify this is a true and complete copy of the corresponding page of the original lasting power of attorney.’

On the final page of the copy, you must also write:

‘I certify this is a true and complete copy of the lasting power of attorney.’

You must sign and date every page.

12 month warning

Once you have received the letter from the OPG with the activation code in it, you only have 12 months to activate.  Many people receive the letter and put it in a draw until they need to start using the LPA, by which time the code has expired.  Make sure you activate it immediately, then it will be ready for when you need to use it.


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