Fee rises are threatening the ability of those on lower incomes to take out Lasting Power of Attorney authority – vital documents which allow others to make decisions on behalf of the elderly concerning their welfare, money or property.
Sofia Tayton, an associate in the Private Client Department at Stratford-upon-Avon law firm Lodders Solicitors, urged as many people as possible to take advantage before the new financial structure takes effect on October 1.
An LPA enables the older person to appoint someone trusted, a relative perhaps or maybe their lawyer, as an “attorney” to make decisions on their behalf. It often comes into play when the individual reaches the stage where they lack the mental capacity to cope.
However, an LPA cannot be used until it is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. And it is the OPG’s charges which are on the rise.
The registration fee goes up from £120 to £130 and a new “Repeat Application Fee” – £65 each time an LPA is resubmitted to the OPG within three months of the invalid application being sent back to the applicant – has been introduced.
These have been accompanied by the introduction of a new fee remissions policy of 50 per cent for those who have a gross income of up to £12,000.
Mrs Tayton said: “Basically, the upshot of this is that those on lower incomes who have been entitled to full fee remissions will not get such a generous allowance as from October 1, and anyone applying to register an LPA will end up paying £10 per document more.
“The maximum a couple could have to pay in registration fees is currently £480, which is £120 for a health and welfare LPA and a property and affairs LPA each. This will rise to £520 as from October 1. It does make quite a difference!
“The people who may notice the changes the most are those who would currently not have to pay any registration fee as they have an income lower than £12,000 per annum who will have to pay £65 from October 1.
“If anyone is therefore in the process of completing an LPA we would urge them to get the document submitted for registration prior to the new fee regime coming in to force to limit their exposure to OPG costs.”