Applied for a Power of Attorney? 100,000s could have been overcharged
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document by which you appoint trusted people to make decisions on your behalf should you become unable to do so in the future.
There are currently 2.8 million Power of Attorneys registered.
But the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has confirmed 1.7 million applications – totalling hundreds of thousands of people in England and Wales – are eligible for a partial refund on their Power of Attorney fees.
In total, £69m has been set aside for the refund scheme, together with £345,000 in interest payments. The MoJ explains the average refund claim will stand at around £40.
Why did applicants pay too much?
People were charged more than was necessary to apply to register a lasting or enduring Power of Attorney between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017.
The MoJ sets the Office of the Public Guardian’s (OPG) fees and the Power of Attorney cost was set at £110.
However, during the four-year period highlighted, OPG’s operating costs came down as more applied to register a Power of Attorney. However, the application fee wasn’t reduced in line with this.
It was only from 1 April 2017 that the fee came down to £82.
The MoJ explains that OPG shouldn’t be making a profit or loss on the fees – the fees should cover the cost of delivering the service only, which can vary from year-to-year depending on the number of applications received.
How much can you claim?
The OPG will run the refund scheme:
- £54 if the fee was paid between April and September 2013
- £34 if the fee was paid between October 2013 and March 2014
- £37 if the fee was paid between April 2014 to March 2015
- £38 if the fee was paid between April 2015 and March 2016
- £45 if the fee was paid between April 2016 to March 2017.
Claims will also include 0.5% interest. If you paid a reduced – ‘remission’ fee, you will get half the refund amount.
How to claim a refund
It will take around 10 minutes to apply online for the Power of Attorney refund (have your bank account and sort code to hand, though you will need to claim by phone (on 0300 456 0300) if the donor doesn’t have a UK bank account, the donor has died or you’re a court-appointed deputy.
It can take up to 12 weeks for your claim to be processed and if it’s approved, the refund will be paid to the donor’s bank account. If it’s rejected, you can appeal by contacting the refunds helpline.
Julie Burgess, associate at Weightmans, said: “Lasting Powers of Attorney are a crucial tool in financial planning, but we know that in the past many people have been put off from registering their documents due to the fees involved – but of course without that crucial registration they cannot be used by the attorneys.
“The reduction in registration fees announced last year was an important step towards making Lasting Powers of Attorney more accessible. The scheme to apply for partial refunds will be a further reminder to those yet to register their documents of the importance of doing so.”