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1.3m Power of Attorney refunds of up to £54 STILL unclaimed as deadline nears

1.3m Power of Attorney refunds of up to £54 STILL unclaimed as deadline nears

Over three quarters of the refunds owed on Power of Attorney fees are yet to be claimed with just weeks to go until the deadline, MoneySavingExpert.com can reveal. 

Back in 2018, the Ministry of Justice announced that people who paid to register a Lasting Power of Attorney in England or Wales between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017 were owed money back, after fees were set too high. Some 1.7 million refunds were owed in total, with each worth between £34 and £54 if you paid the full registration fee.

Now new figures we've obtained show that only 400,000 of these refunds have been claimed so far, leaving around 1.3 million still to be paid ahead of the deadline on 31 January 2021.

We've also found 60,000 refunds are still owed to those who paid for a deputyship assessment or supervision in England or Wales between 1 April 2008 and 31 March 2015, after fees were again set too high. These refunds are worth around £240 on average, though you've longer to reclaim as the deadline's not until 2022 – see more on deputyship reclaim help below.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney 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 you lose capacity. For full info on how a Power of Attorney works and whether you should get one, see our Power of Attorney guide.

There are two types of Power of Attorney, one for finance and property and another for health and welfare. Some will have registered both and so can claim a double refund.

Why are refunds due – and how much can I reclaim?

Refunds are owed because the full application fee for registering a Power of Attorney – which are set by the Ministry of Justice and paid to the Office of the Public Guardian – remained at £110 between 2013 and 2017, even though the operating costs of the Office of the Public Guardian had dropped. The full fee was reduced to £82 in April 2017.

As the fee is simply supposed to cover operating costs, the Government is now repaying the difference between what applicants paid and what they should have paid, plus interest.

As the table below shows, exactly how much you can reclaim depends on when you paid for the Power of Attorney, and whether you paid the full registration fee (£110) or the half-price fee (£55), which is offered to those with an income of less than £12,000 a year and those on certain benefits.

Refund for each Power of Attorney

When you paid the fee Refund if you paid the full fee  Refund if you paid the half-price fee (1)
Apr 2013 - Sep 2013 £54 £27
Oct 2013 - Mar 2014 £34 £17
Apr 2014 - Mar 2015 £37 £18.50
Apr 2015 - Mar 2016 £38 £19
Apr 2016 - Mar 2017 £45 £22.50

(1) Available to those who had an income of less than £12,000/yr or were on certain benefits.

How to claim a Power of Attorney refund

You can make a claim for a fee paid to register a Lasting Power of Attorney in England or Wales between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017. You can claim whether you were the donor (the person who made the Power of Attorney) or the attorney (the person appointed by the donor), though the refund will be paid to the donor. You can claim even if the Power of Attorney's been used.

You can apply for a refund online, though if struggling you can call the Office of the Public Guardian on 0300 456 0300 (select option six). To apply, you don't need the Power of Attorney document itself, but you will need:

  • The donor's name, address and date of birth.
  • Their UK bank account number and sort code.
  • The name of one of the attorneys on the Power of Attorney.

Here are the other need-to-knows:

  • You only need to make one claim for each donor – even if you've made multiple Powers of Attorney.
  • It can take up to 12 weeks for your claim to be processed and paid.
  • If your claim is refused and you want to appeal, call the helpline on 0300 456 0300 and select option six.
  • If the donor doesn't have a UK bank account or you're a court-appointed deputy, you'll have to apply by phone.
  • You can also claim for an Enduring Power of Attorney if you registered it in the relevant period. The Enduring Power of Attorney was replaced by the Lasting Power of Attorney on 1 October 2007, but if someone could have been drafted the latter before the cut-off and registered it during the refund period, it would be eligible.

If the donor has died, you can still claim but you'll need to apply by email (contact poarefunds@justice.gsi.gov.uk) or post (POA Refunds Team, 7th Floor, Office of the Public Guardian, PO Box 16185, Birmingham, B2 2WH) instead. You'll need to send a copy of the donor's death certificate and will, or a grant of representation such as a grant of probate or letter of administration, along with your contact details.

The deadline for applying is 31 January 2021. The Ministry of Justice says applications made after this may still be considered – but it's still worth getting your application in ahead of this to be sure.

'Time is running out to reclaim – so check now if you're owed'

Steve Nowottny, news and investigations editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "This is a very straightforward reclaim – the Government's clear that those who paid to register a Power of Attorney in England or Wales between April 2013 and March 2017 should not have had to pay as much as they did.

"Yet as the figures we've obtained today show, it's gone very much under the radar – and there's a very real risk that when the deadline hits 100,000s will have missed out. So if you think you may be owed, don't delay in applying to get your money back – sort it today to ensure you don't lose out."

Many are also owed refunds of deputyship fees

There are also 60,000 outstanding refunds for overpaid deputyship fees. Here the average refund owed is £240, though the Ministry of Justice says that in practice most will get less than £200.

A deputy is appointed by the Court of Protection to look after the affairs of someone who's already lost capacity but didn't have a Power of Attorney in place. Once a deputy is appointed, an assessment fee and an annual supervision fee must be paid to the Office of the Public Guardian – this assessment fee is currently £100, and you pay £320 a year for general supervision (though some can pay a reduced fee of £35 a year if they're managing less than £21,000 and need a lower level of supervision).

As with the Power of Attorney refunds, deputyship refunds are owed because fees charged between April 2008 and March 2015 didn't match how much it actually cost the Office of the Public Guardian to supervise deputies, meaning 82,000 were overcharged.

The 60,000 refunds waiting to be claimed are for people who formerly had a deputy but now make their own decisions, or those acting on behalf of someone who had a deputy and has died. If you're a deputy acting under a current court order and you've overpaid, this should have been refunded automatically – the Ministry of Justice says that "99.9%" of eligible current deputies have been paid, and outstanding cases have "complex issues".

  • How much you'll be refunded depends on what fees you paid, how long you paid for and whether you have any unpaid fees. Refunds include 0.5% interest on top of the amount that was overpaid.

    To apply, you'll need to complete a form. Send it by email to deputyshipfeerefunds@justice.gov.uk with 'Deputyship fee refund application' as the subject, or by post to Deputyship Fee Refunds, Office of the Public Guardian, PO Box 10796, Nottingham, NG2 9WF.

    As well as the form, you'll need to include the following evidence for your claim:

    • Proof of your name. This could be a copy of your current passport, birth or adoption certificate, current UK or EEA photo drivers' licence (not a provisional licence), identity card or benefit documents.

    • Proof of your address. This could be a copy of a utility bill (not a mobile phone bill) from the last 12 months, a current council tax bill, a bank, building society or credit union statement from the last three months, an original mortgage statement issued for the last full year, or a tenancy agreement for the current year.

    • Proof of your right to apply if you're claiming for someone who's died. For example, a copy of a grant of probate if you're the executor, letters of administration if you're the administrator or a death certificate if a family member.

    If you're struggling to fill in the form, you can contact the helpline on 0300 456 0300, and choose option six. Remember that if you apply through the helpline you'll still need to send evidence in separately.

    If you're due a refund you'll be paid by cheque, though you can include your bank details in your application if you'd rather be paid by bank transfer. If you're claiming on behalf of someone who's died, the refund will be divided between the beneficiaries of their estate. It can take up to three months to get the refund.

You have longer to apply for these refunds, as the deadline's not until 4 October 2022 – but it's still worth applying as soon as you can.

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