Although the UK is slowly returning to some degree of normality, significant backlogs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic continue to plague several key estate planning organisations.
The importance of putting your affairs in order has never been more keenly felt. There has been a surge of applications in response to the pandemic, against which a number of important organisations are still struggling to cope.
The average time to register a Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”) with the Office of the Public Guardian (“OPG”) has risen sharply from an average of 12 weeks to up to 20 weeks or even longer. One recent report suggests that you may be on hold for up to 48 minutes (costing £11.19) to call the OPG for an update. Similarly, when contacting the Probate Office for an update, their waiting time could be as high as 54 minutes (costing £12.33). The same report suggests that HMRC’s inheritance tax updates may take up to 18 minutes over the phone (costing £4.11).
An LPA can only be created by an individual (known as the “donor”) during their lifetime. Once capacity is lost, it takes a potentially lengthy deputyship application to the Court before you can manage an individual’s estate. The importance of putting in place LPAs while the donor still has capacity cannot be understated, nor does the rate of applications seem to be slowing. It appears almost inevitable that the current backlog will leave families in limbo as donors lose capacity before the registration process is complete. Similarly, the probate process is already a lengthy one. These ongoing delays seem likely to only add to the deceased’s relatives’ grief, frustrations and distress.
We recognise that succession planning can be a difficult topic to discuss. However our expert team, nominated at the Chambers High Net Worth Awards 2022 for “Out of London Practice of the Year”, is well-versed in dealing with a wide variety of estate planning matters. Not only can we help with the preparation of Wills and registration of LPAs, but we can also guide individuals through all stages of the Probate process.
If you would like to discuss your estate planning further, please contact a member of our Trusts, Wills and Estates team on 01423 566666.
Published on 6 June 2022