By Paul Lewis
Hundreds of thousands of people who paid a fee for a lasting Power of Attorney between 2013 and 2017 in England and Wales may be entitled to a refund.
The Ministry of Justice has admitted that over that period it had been charging people more than the cost of processing their applications.
From April 2017 the sum payable for taking out a Power of Attorney was cut and is now £82.
Anyone who paid for a Power between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017 would have been charged too much and is entitled to a refund. The amount ranges from £34 to £54, depending on the year the Power was taken out.
Individuals who took out two powers – one for health and another for finances – will be refunded for each. In some cases people who made errors on their application had to resubmit and pay another full fee.
The refund applies to those fees as well.
Couples who took out Powers of attorney at the same time will both be eligible.
People who paid half the full fee on grounds of low income will receive half the refund.
The refund is always paid to the person who gave the Power of Attorney, known as the “donor”. Normally, they should apply but if they are unable, the refund can be applied for by an attorney.
If the donor has died, then the person who sorted out their estate can apply for the money.
They will need a death certificate and normally a will or authority to deal with the estate (a grant of probate or letters of administration).
People without those documents should call the helpline (details below).
The Office of the Public Guardian warns it will take around 12 weeks to issue the refund cheque.
Interest at 0.5% will be added from when the fee was paid to the time the cheque was issued but that will generally add less than a pound to the total.
The refunds only apply in England and Wales, not to Powers of Attorney taken out in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
The application is best done online at gov.uk, search “power of attorney refund”.
If you cannot do that there is also a helpline: 0300 456 0300 (choose option 6).