Almost two million people in England and Wales could be entitled to a partial refund of their Power of Attorney fees, after the Office of the Public Guardian overcharged them for applications.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) revealed that those who made an application for Lasting Power of Attorney between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017 were charged too much in fees and could now be owed up to £108 each.
Which? takes a look at why fees were too high and how you can claim a refund if you think your application was affected.
What is Lasting Power of Attorney?
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that nominates a trusted person to manage your affairs if you ever lose the capacity to do so yourself.
There are two types of power of attorney: a Property and Financial Affairs LPA, which gives your attorney the power to make decisions about your money and assets; and Health and Welfare LPA, giving your attorney the power to make decisions about your care.
- Find out more: Power of Attorney explained.
Why were people overcharged for LPA?
To register a Power of Attorney document, you must make an application to a national body called the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
The OPG charges all applicants a fee, designed to cover its running costs.
But between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017, the MoJ reduced the OPG’s operating costs but the application fee stayed the same. As a result, the OPG generated a surplus of £89m from overpayments.
The cost of applications was initially set at £110 and reduced from 1 April 2017 down to £82.
According to a Freedom of Information request from Old Mutual Wealth, 1.8 million people are likely to be affected by the overpayment.
- Find out more: setting up Power of Attorney.
Who is eligible for a refund?
You will be eligible to claim a refund if you made a Power of Attorney application between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017 as either:
- The donor – the person who made the power of attorney application
- An attorney – appointed by the donor
But keep in mind the refund will only be paid to the donor.
How much could I be refunded?
The amount of money you’ll get back depends on the amount of fees you paid at the time of your application. An extra 0.5% interest will be added to each successful claim.
If you made applications for both types of Power of Attorney, you could be owed up to £108 plus interest.
|When you paid the fee||Refund for each Power of Attorney|
|April to September 2013||£54|
|October 2013 to March 2014||£34|
|April 2014 to March 2015||£37|
|April 2015 to March 2016||£38|
|April 2016 to March 2017||£45|
If you are unsure of the exact date you paid your Power of Attorney fees, you can still make a claim – though it may not be accepted if records show your application was outside the timeframe.
- Find out more: deputies and the court of protection.
How to make a claim
Refund claims can be made online by completing a 10-minute form. In order to make an online claim, you must have the donor’s UK bank account number and sort code.
You can also make a claim by calling the Refunds Helpline on 0300 456 0300.
Claims can only be made via phone if:
- The donor doesn’t have a UK bank account
- The donor has died
- You’re the court-appointed deputy
How long do claims take to process?
It takes up to 12 weeks for claims to be processed. If they are approved, the refund will be paid straight into the donor’s bank account.
If your claim is rejected, it is possible to appeal the decision by contacting the Refunds Helpline via phone (0300 456 0300) or email: email@example.com.
For more information on Power of Attorney, take a look at our comprehensive guide, which covers everything from setting one up to deputies and court protection.