Over a million people have been overcharged for registering Power of Attorneys in the last few years.
If you paid to register a Power of Attorney in England or Wales between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2017, then you are entitled to a refund of up to £54 as you were quite simply overcharged.
There is an application fee to register a Power of Attorney, which is set by the Ministry of Justice and paid to the Office of the Public Guardian. Between 2013 and 2017, the operating costs of the Office of the Public Guardian decreased, but the Power of Attorney application fee stayed the same for four whole years! As the fee is supposed to cover just the operating costs, the Government will now repay the difference between what applicants paid and what they should have paid, plus a small amount of interest; but only if they apply for the refund – the refund will not happen automatically.
The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that 1.7 million applications are affected. It’s not clear exactly how many people are owed a refund, as many people will have registered both types of Power of Attorney, but it is certain that over a million people are affected, and are due a refund, and with the average refund of £40, there is over £40 million waiting to be refunded.
You can make your own judgement as to the lack of efficiency here, and take your own view on the scandal of over one million people being overcharged, and why they are not being automatically refunded.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which allows you, while you still have the mental capacity to do so, to nominate a trusted friend or relative to look after your affairs if or when you lose your mental capacity. There are two types of Power of Attorney, one for health and welfare, and one for property and financial affairs. Some people will have registered both types of Power of Attorney and so can thus claim a refund of up to £108.
How much you can reclaim depends on when you paid for the Power of Attorneys which is calculated on a sliding scale for all applications from April 2013 to March 2017.
You can make a claim if you were the person who made the Power of Attorney or you are the person appointed in the LPA; with the refund being paid to the person who made the LPA. You can claim a refund even if the Power of Attorney has been used.
You can claim a refund online via the gov.uk website, or by phoning the Office of the Public Guardian’s helpline on 0300 456 0300. You don’t need the Power of Attorney document itself, but you will need the person’s name, address, date of birth, bank account number and sort code and the name of one of the people mentioned on the LPA.
Jenny Chase, wills specialist at Quick Will comments “If you did register an LPA during the period April 2013 to March 2017, we would hope that if you used a solicitor, a will writer or another organisation to help you complete the forms (for a fee) that they have been in touch with you to let you know you are entitled to a refund. If they haven’t been in touch, perhaps you should consider whether they have your best interests at heart, and whether you should use them for anything else in the future.”
Either way, do apply for a refund – you are entitled to it.