Singapore has an increasing aging population and we are all going to be a part of it. So, what happens when we become mentally incapacitated? We would want to ensure that our affairs will be taken care of by someone we trust. This can be done through a legal document called the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
In Singapore, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) accepts applications for LPAs, and they seek to protect persons who are mentally incapacitated. Here are just seven things that you should know about an LPA.
- What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
An LPA is a legal document that allows a person who is 21 years of age or older to plan the management of his/her affairs in the event of a loss of mental capacity. In the LPA, the person making the LPA (known as the donor) appoints one or more persons (known as the donee) to act and make decisions on his/her behalf.
Let us assume you are the donor, a donee should be someone you trust who is reliable and competent to act on your behalf.
- What are the Powers of the Donee?
The donee is given the authority to make decisions about your personal welfare and/or property and financial matters. This includes where you are to live and how you are to be cared for. The LPA can also allow the donee to access your bank accounts on your behalf.
- When is a person considered “mentally incapacitated”?
Under the Mental Capacity Act, a person is defined to lack capacity if he/she is “unable to make a decision for himself/herself in relation to the matter because of an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of, the mind or brain”. This could include dementia, a stroke or a head trauma as the result of an accident.
- Why is an LPA important?
With an LPA, you can choose precisely who you wish to entrust the powers of the Donee to. This will give you and your family members peace of mind.
While LPA’s are usually recommended for the elderly as they are more prone to a loss of mental capacity, they are also just as important to the young as well. A sudden accident may put a young person in coma and leave them unavailable to make important decisions during that long absence.
In the absence of an LPA, a court order would have to be obtained in order to administer the affairs of a person who lacks mental capacity. The court appoints a person to be the court-appointed deputy to manage the affairs of the person who lacks mental capacity. This process can be both time-consuming and expensive, and you do not get to decide who the deputy will be.
- Duties of the Donee
The donee, in the exercise of his/her powers conferred by the LPA, must act in the best interests of you, the donor. The Office of the Public Guardian can investigate cases where the donee does not act in the best interests of the donor.
Additionally, the LPA document itself may include restrictions or conditions limiting the power of the donee. When you recover your mental capacity, the donee no longer has the power to make decisions for you.
- Revoking a Donee’s powers - the Mental Capacity Act.
When you recover your mental capacity, you can revoke the LPA. Any person, such as your relative, may apply to the court to lift the LPA. The court has the power to revoke or lift the LPA, under the following conditions:
- Where fraud or undue pressure was used to induce the donor to create the LPA; or
- Where the donee behaves, is behaving, or proposes to behave in a way that would contravene his/herauthority or would not be in the donor’s best interests.
- Where a donor of a LPA ill-treats the donee, he/she may be liable to severe sanctions, including a fine and imprisonment, by virtue of section 42 of the Mental Capacity Act.
- Making an LPA – easy and inexpensive
Applications for the LPA can be made via the OPG. There are two main forms provided, depending on the varying degrees of powers to be granted to the Donee.
In both cases, the forms must be certified by a Certificate Issuer, who can either be a practicing lawyer, a psychiatrist, or an accredited medical practitioner. The certificate issuer will generally charge a fee for certification.
In order for an LPA to be validly created, it needs to be registered with the OPG.
With an LPA on hand, you can be sure that your affairs will be in good hands should anything suddenly happen to you. It’s also a great long-term plan for those who would prefer to have someone they trust in managing their financial matters instead of a random stranger.
Want to find out more about LPAs, understand more or want to get an LPA done? Drop by at our place around lunchtime for a LPA talk at 26 July, from 12:30pm to 1:30pm, with our experienced legal staff and clarify any burning questions that you might have.
Registration fees are at $10, and what’s more, you can even apply for your very own LPA on the day of the talk at an early bird special of $88. The offer lasts till 20 July, before it reverts back to the usual price of $100, so act fast.
Find out more about the event here!