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Legal News | 8.12.22

The Winter of Discontent

Postal strikes and delays in public bodies mark the beginning of this year’s winter. If you need to register a Lasting Power of Attorney, apply for a Grant of Probate or register a transfer of a property, you may be facing a lengthy process.

The Office of the Public Guardian is the government body responsible for registration of Lasting Powers of Attorney. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document allowing an individual to appoint attorneys to make decisions on their behalf if they lose capacity or, in case of financial decisions, even before that. However, an LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used. If the LPA is not registered, the attorney is not authorised to act. Due to the current delays, the Office of the Public Guardian takes up to 20 weeks to register an LPA. This estimate relates to applications where no issues are found. If there is, for example, a mistake on the LPA, the registration process can take even longer.

The Probate Registry issues Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration (known collectively as Grants of Representation). These documents give the named persons authority to deal with the deceased’s estate. Personal representatives need a Grant of Representation to collect in all the assets, pay the liabilities and distribute the balance. Unless an estate consists solely of assets which do not require the issue of a grant, personal representatives will not be able to administer the estate without a Grant of Representation. The Probate Registry currently takes around two months to process a probate application. One of the reasons cited is a large number of applications creating a backlog. If an application isn’t one which can be submitted online or relates to a complicated estate, the process can take six months or longer.

Similarly, the Land Registry experiences delays dealing with a backlog of applications and is taking up to one year to process some applications for registration. This period can extend if there are discrepancies on the application and the Land Registry raises requisitions.

Together with the postal strikes causing uncertainty as to when documents will be delivered, dealing with applications to these public institutions can be a daunting and frustrating experience.  We are here to ease the burden and alleviate the stress by dealing with the formalities for you. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with your usual contact at Wansbroughs or by contacting us at wealth@wansbroughs.com.


Posted By Our Wills, Tax, Trusts & Probate Team