Less than 20% of a rebate fund for Power of Attorney applications has been claimed, according to figures obtained from the Ministry of Justice by Royal London.
Refunds are available for applicants who were overcharged for part of a Power of Attorney application fee during a specific three-year period.
An estimated one million people are owed refunds but as at February 2019, only 194,713 individuals have been reimbursed, meaning 800,000 individuals are yet to claim. Of the £69 million set aside by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) to refund individuals who were overcharged, only £12 million has been paid out.
Individuals have until 31st January 2021 to apply for a refund, but there are concerns that a lack of awareness of eligibility or of how to claim is resulting in low take-up.
Why are Power of Attorney refunds due?
A Power of Attorney is a legal document used to give rights to nominated individuals (‘attorneys’) to make decisions relating to medical and financial matters on behalf of the ‘donor’.
The document has to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) for a fee. The fee was to equate to a level required to cover the OPG’s running costs, but between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2017, the fees charged were set above such a level, generating a surplus of £89 million for the OPG.
The application fee was eventually reduced on 1st April 2017 and individuals who were overcharged during the affected period are now able to claim for the overpayment.
The refund amount will vary depending on when the fee was paid. 0.5% interest will be added to the amount due.
Between April and September 2013, refund of £54 per power of attorney, October 2013 to March 2014 £34, April 2014 to March 2015 £37, April 2015 to March 2016 £38 and April 2016 to March 2017 will be a refund of £45. Applications can be made for both lasting and enduring powers of attorney. Half refunds will apply where a reduced fee was paid.
Who is eligible for a refund?
Refunds apply to part of the power of attorney application relating to enduring and lasting powers of attorney. The application must have been made in England or Wales between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2017. The OPG can check against its records where applicants are not able to provide the date the fee was paid.
Refunds can only be applied for by the ‘donor’ (the person who made the power of attorney), or an ‘attorney’, appointed by the donor in the power of attorney to make decisions on their behalf.
Refunds can only be paid to the donor and will be made directly into their bank account.
Refund applications take around 12 weeks to process.
If the donor is now deceased, only the executor of the will or administrator of the estate can claim a refund. A copy of the death certificate will need to be submitted, along with the will or the grant of representation.
Refunds applications should be made using the online claim form on the UK government website or, in certain circumstances, by calling the Refunds Helpline on 0300 456 0300.