During this period, the OPG’s operating costs came down as more people applied to register a power of attorney and the process became more efficient, but the application fee charged was not reduced in line with this.
The Ministry of Justice, which sets the OPG’s fees, reduced the application fee with effect from 1 April 2017, and has now launched a refund scheme for those who paid a higher sum in the qualifying period. The scheme will be run by OPG.
“1.8 million people are eligible for a refund from the Ministry of Justice, which has announced that those who have paid for a lasting or enduring power of attorney from April 2013 to March 2017 can claim a refund worth up to £54,” said Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert at Old Mutual Wealth.
“The Ministry of Justice is only supposed to charge enough to cover the cost of providing the service, but the large number of applications meant it made a £89m ($125.6m, €100.8m) surplus, which it now needs to repay.
“With the continual rise in dementia, there is a very real risk that people will be left in a vulnerable position if they don’t register a lasting power of attorney. Those with dementia are particularly vulnerable to the theft or illegal use of their property, money or other valuables.”
There has been a steady growth in the number of lasting power of attorneys (LPAs) registered and dispatched over the last few years, with an 18% increase in the first half of 2017, compared to the first half of 2016.
However, growth has slowed, as between 2015 and 2016 there was an annual increase of 26%.
“More still needs to be done to raise awareness for LPAs, especially as the number of people with dementia continues to rise,” added Griffin.