A summary of key legal updates for the Private Client sector over the past week is as follows.
Finance Bill 2022
On 20 July 2021, draft legislation for the Finance Bill 2022 was published for technical consultation. Despite speculation, the awaited government response to the Office of Tax Simplification reports on inheritance tax and capital gains tax were not published alongside the draft Bill. Private Client measures within the draft Bill include: measures designed to further tackle promoters of tax avoidance; the development of a new stamp duty and stamp duty reserve tax framework; and increasing the "normal minimum pension age" to 57 (from 2028). Draft Finance Bill 2022 legislation: key private client measures | Practical Law (thomsonreuters.com)
Online Probate System
On 19 July 2021, HM Courts & Tribunals Service published a letter setting out a series of improvements to the online probate system. These will go live on 19 August 2021. Any pending applications not submitted before 19 August will not be able to progress and a new application will need to be created after this date. The improvements include: allowing Trust Corporations to apply online for a Grant of Probate; and the ability for the legal statement to be signed (including with a digital signature) by a practitioner on behalf of their client and any of the applying executors.
LPA waiting times
The Office of the Public Guardian has updated its guidance on making and registering a Lasting Power of Attorney ("LPA") to say that it is currently experiencing delays and applicants should allow up to 20 weeks from receipt of the signed LPA for registration. This includes a four-week waiting period required by law. The waiting period was previously stated to be 15 weeks. Making and registering an LPA during the coronavirus outbreak - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
On 20 July 2021, the Ministry of Justice launched a consultation "Modernising Lasting Powers of Attorney". The consultation is focused on facilitating a digital channel for creating, executing and registering LPAs. Currently, whilst an LPA can be created online, it needs to be signed and submitted in hard copy. The consultation recognises that not everybody is able or willing to use digital technology and any future LPA service will allow for multi-channel access. It is also noted that any new system must address concerns about safeguards against fraud, undue pressure (including coercion) and abuse. The consultation is open until 13 October 2021. Modernising Lasting Powers of Attorney Consultation (justice.gov.uk)
Trust Registration Service
The latest HMRC "Agent Update" provides that HMRC is "continuing to prepare for opening the Trust Registration Service to non-taxable trusts for registrations in Summer 2021". A previous HMRC announcement had specified autumn 2021. Non-taxable trusts are invited to contact HMRC if they wish to participate in the current development phase, so as to provide input and feedback on how the service and the supporting guidance is developed. Agent Update: issue 86 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)