Dramatic increase in lasting power of attorney registrations

According to data from the UK Family Court, the number of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) registrations increased dramatically in 2023, eventually surpassing one million for the first time.

The data, which covers the period from October to December 2023, indicates a 37 per cent rise in registrations, which is explained by an ageing population and a quicker online application process.

An individual (the “donor”) may designate one or more persons (referred to as “attorneys”) to make decisions on their behalf in the event that they lose mental capacity or decide they no longer want to make decisions for themselves through the use of a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), a legal document that is recognised in the UK.

LPAs come in two primary forms:

  1. Welfare and Health LPA: this gives the designated attorney(s) the authority to decide on the donor’s daily care, living arrangements and medical treatment, among other aspects of their welfare.
  2. Property and Financial Affairs LPA: this gives the attorney(s) control over the donor’s assets and money, allowing them to handle tasks like bill payment, bank account management and property sales.

Public Guardian Office

Before being used, the document must to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian in England and Wales, or the equivalent organisations in Scotland and Northern Ireland. They are essential legal instruments because they let people choose reliable agents to act on their behalf in situations where they are incapable of making decisions for themselves.

Although registering for a lasting power of attorney is made simpler by the streamlined online application procedure, experts have cautioned that the implementation of even a basic LPA can take up to 20 weeks.

Comparing probate to other grants of representation, probate has demonstrated increased efficiency. Probate grants were given out between October and December 2023 in around 14 weeks following the submission of the application; in contrast, letters of administration took about 23 weeks in the case of a will and 17 weeks in the case of none.

Average duration

Even with this advancement, efforts to give older cases priority are evident in the average length of time it takes to issue grants.

In addition, 65 percent of the funds were awarded through digital probate, which took 10.2 weeks from application to submission and 7.9 weeks from document receipt to grant issuance. On the other hand, delays in cases took an average of 23 weeks to resolve, indicating systemic problems.

STEP, a global professional group that includes solicitors, accountants, trustees, and other practitioners who assist families in making future plans, conducted a study in January 2024 in response to concerns regarding probate delays.

Absence of senior experts

According to the study, these delays had resulted in the cancellation of cases for every responder. The main reasons for application delays were found to be registry problems and a shortage of senior personnel for review.

The UK Justice Committee opened an investigation in November 2023 to address probate delays and enhance consumer protection in response to mounting concerns. The goal of the inquiry is to evaluate the support given to executors, beneficiaries and the bereaved during the probate procedure.