The following guide looks at the Power of Attorney refund scheme, the eligibility criteria and how to apply.
If you applied to register a Power of Attorney (POA) between 2013 and 2017 you may be entitled to some of your money back. The Ministry of Justice has set up a scheme to give a partial refund to anyone who registered a POA between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017.
What is the Power of Attorney refund scheme?
When you register a Power of Attorney, you are charged an application fee, set by the Ministry of Justice and paid to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
Historically, the OPG charged a registration fee of £110 per document. However, even though the system became more efficient, meaning the operational costs of the OPG decreased significantly, this was not reflected in the fees charged.
On 1 April 2017, the OPG eventually announced that their fees would be reduced to £82. Moreover, the government launched a scheme to refund those who, unnecessarily, paid the higher fee during what’s known as the ‘qualifying period’.
What are the eligibility criteria for a Power of Attorney refund?
You may be eligible for a partial refund if you applied to register either a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) or an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives a trusted person or persons, ie; the attorney(s), the authority to make decisions on behalf of another person, ie; the donor.
LPAs came into force on 1st October 2007 under the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Prior to this a donor would have created what’s known as an Enduring Power of Attorney when wanting to appoint another person to make decisions on their behalf.
An EPA could be used both before a person lost the mental capacity to make their own decisions, as well as after. However, the EPA would need to be registered once the donor lost the ability to make their own decisions.
It is therefore possible that an EPA could’ve been drafted prior to the cut-off date in 2007, but was not registered until during the refund period. If this is the case, a Power of Attorney refund may still fall due.
Are there any additional requirements for a POA refund?
On 1 April 2017, the application fee for registering a Power of Attorney was reduced from £110 to £82. If you applied after that date, you can’t reclaim any money back.
In addition to having applied to register an LPA or EPA during the qualifying period, you must also satisfy the following criteria to be eligible for a Power of Attorney refund:
- The POA must have been made in England or Wales.
- Any claim for a refund must be made prior to February 2021. The scheme is open for three years to ensure everybody has time to apply. The deadline for applying is 31 January 2021.
Who can claim a Power of Attorney refund?
There is more than one category of person who can potentially claim a Power of Attorney refund, namely:
- the donor, ie; the person who made the POA in the first place.
- an attorney, ie; any person appointed by the donor in an LPA or EPA to make decisions on their behalf.
- a replacement attorney, but only in circumstances where that person has gone on to be subsequently appointed as an attorney and has the authority to make decisions on behalf of the donor.
Please note that even though an application for a Power of Attorney refund can be made by an attorney, the money must be paid over to the donor. In other words, the attorney will be making the claim for the partial refund on behalf of the donor.
If the donor has died, only the executor of the will or administrator of the estate can claim a Power of Attorney refund.
In these circumstances, the executors or administrators will not be able to apply online but rather will need to email copies of the death certificate, and the grant of probate or letters of administration, to email@example.com or, alternatively, post them to:
POA Refunds Team
7th Floor, Office of the Public Guardian
PO Box 16185
How much is a Power of Attorney refund?
The extent of a Power of Attorney refund will depend upon when you paid the fees and whether you paid the full fee to begin with.
In many cases, the donor, or the donor’s attorney(s), may not recall when the fees were paid, However, this will not preclude you from claiming a Power of Attorney refund. An application can still be submitted.
You will receive a Power of Attorney refund for each POA you made during the qualifying period at the following rates:
- Fee paid April to September 2013 – £54
- Fee paid October 2013 to March 2014 – £34
- Fee paid April 2014 to March 2015 – £37
- Fee paid April 2015 to March 2016 – £38
- Fee paid April 2016 to March 2017 – £45.
The donor will also be entitled to interest on those fees at a rate of 0.5%.
For those of you that paid a reduced fee, which is offered to those on a low income, you will only receive half the applicable Power of Attorney refund.
How do I claim a Power of Attorney refund?
The process to claim a Power of Attorney refund is relatively straightforward. You can either claim online, by telephone or by post. The contact details are as follows:
Telephone: 0300 456 0300
POA Refunds Team
7th Floor, Office of the Public Guardian
PO Box 16185
Even if you made more than one POA during the qualifying period, you need only submit one claim to receive a Power of Attorney refund for each fee. It is one claim per donor as the OPG will locate all application fees paid by you during the relevant period and refund you accordingly.
Prior to submitting a claim you will need the following information:
- A copy of the LPA, if you are still in possession of this, although strictly speaking this is not necessary.
- The donor’s UK bank account number and sort code.
Please note that in certain circumstances, a claim can only be made by telephone. This includes:
- Where the donor does not have a UK bank account.
- You are a court-appointed deputy for someone who previously had a registered LPA or EPA.
- You have a trust organisation as the attorney.
How long will a Power of Attorney refund take?
Once you have submitted your Power of Attorney refund claim, it can take anything up to 12 weeks to be processed. In the event that your claim is approved, the refund will be paid directly into the donor’s bank account.
Am I likely to encounter any problems in receiving a refund?
Making a claim for a Power of Attorney refund is relatively straightforward and you should not expect to encounter too many problems, even though the process is fairly lengthy.
If your claim is rejected, for whatever reason, an appeal can also be made of this decision. For more information on how to appeal a Power of Attorney refund, you can contact the refunds helpline on 0300 456 0300 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Should I seek legal advice when claiming a refund?
You do not need to seek legal advice to submit a claim for a Power of Attorney refund. However, you may have important questions relating to your Power of Attorney, not least if you still have an Enduring Power of Attorney in place and whether this is still effective.
An expert adviser can examine any existing provisions that you have in place, and advise you on any further steps you can take to safeguard your future in the event of unforeseen illness, accident or disability.
The matters contained in this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This article does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law and should not be treated as such.
Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, express or implied, is given as to its accuracy and no liability is accepted for any error or omission.
Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert legal advice should be sought.