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What is Lasting Power of Attorney and Why It Matters

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Recently, application fee waiver for Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) was extended for another two years by The Office of the Public Guardian. This is part of efforts from the government to cope with an ageing population and rising prevalence of dementia among Singaporeans that often led to a loss of mental capacity. Based on the latest extension, Singaporeans can enjoy fee-waived application till end-August 2020.

Yet, despite the government’s moves to encourage more Singaporeans to plan ahead with an LPA, some Singaporeans are still clueless about LPA.

What is Lasting Power of Attorney?

LPA is a piece of legal document to legally allow someone else to manage your matters for you. The LPA will kick in when you lose mental capacity and become unable to handle and execute key decisions on your own.

Under the Mental Capacity Act, a person is defined to lose mental capacity if he/she is:

“Unable to make a decision for himself in relation to the matter because of an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of, the mind or brain”.

According to the law, temporary or permanent impairment or disturbance will all be considered as a loss of mental capacity. For example, dementia, stroke or a sustained trauma to the head from an accident are potential causes of loss of mental capacity.

LPA vs Will: What is the difference?

LPA takes legal effect in the special situation when the donor (aka you) lose your mental capacity. A will, on the other hand, takes legal effect only after your death.

Who can you appoint as your donee?

In the LPA, the person making the LPA is known as the donor. A donor can choose to appoint one or more persons to act and make decisions on your behalf. The appointed persons are known as donee.

In order to be a donee, the appointed person(s) needs to be at least 21 years old when the LPA is signed. In addition, the appointed person(s) cannot be an undischarged bankrupt.

Key consideration: Choosing a reliable and competent donee

One important consideration you need to make when choosing a donee is to ensure that he/she is reliable and competent. The donee needs to act on your behalf. So, he/she needs to be a trusted individual. One who will make sound decisions for your personal welfare, property and/or financial matters.

Duties of a donee under LPA

The donee that you have conferred the powers of LPA to needs to act in the best interest of the donor, i.e. you. For example, the donee will help you decide where you live and how you are cared for while you are sick. The Office of the Public Guardian has the power to investigate against your donee if he/she does not act in your best interest.

In the event that you recover your mental capacity, your donee no longer has the power to make decisions for you.

How to make an LPA?

In order to make an LPA, there are three simple steps involved.

Step 1: Choosing your donee

The first step in making an LPA is to choose your donee(s). You need to choose someone trusted and eligible to be your donee(s). Once this is done, you also need to decide what type of decision powers to grant to your donee(s). You can grant one of the three decision powers to your donee(s): Personal welfare, property and affairs or both.

If you have more than one donee, you need to decide if they have to act together (jointly) or can make decisions on their own (jointly & severally). You will then need to fill in LPA Form 1, which can be download from The Office of Public Guardian’s website or here.

Step 2: Visit an LPA certificate issuer

As part of the safeguard to ensure that you do not make an LPA under pressure or duress, you need to visit a professional to issue an LPA certificate. You can choose to visit an accredited medical practitioner, lawyer or psychiatrist. You can find a list of LPA certificate issuer on The Office of Public Guardian’s website.

For low-income families, you have the option to get the LPA certificate issued by a not-for-profit organisation. These organisations include Life Point’s LPA One-Stop Services, Potter’s Place Community Services Society and Mount Alvernia Outreach Clinic @ Enabling Village. For Potter’s Place Community Services Society, applicants will have to pass a means-test.

Step 3: Submitting your LPA

Once you have both Form 1 and the LPA certificate issued, you will need to submit your application to The Office of Public Guardian. This needs to be done by post to the following address:

Office of the Public Guardian
20 Lengkok Bahru
#04-02, Family @ Enabling Village
Singapore 159053

You must submit your LPA application within 6 months from the date the donor signs on the LPA Form. The Office of Public Guardian then verifies your documents. They then accept your application for registration (if the content is error-free). The LPA will be registered if there are no valid objections in the following 6 weeks.

What if you wish to customise powers for your donees?

If you want to customise powers for your donees, you will need to fill up the LPA Form 2 instead. You will need a lawyer to draft the annex to Part 3 of the LPA Form 2 in step 1 and 2. However, Form 2 is typically used for those with larger and more complicated assets. According to The Office of Public Guardian, 98% of applicants completed their LPA with Form 1.

Cost of making an LPA

Application fee for LPA

LPA Form 1 Fee (incl. GST)

LPA Form 2 Fee (incl. GST)

Singapore Citizens $0 $200
(fee of $75 waived for another 2 years until 31st August 2020)
Singapore Permanent $100 $250
Foreigners $250 $300

Cost of issuing an LPA certificate

According to The Office of Public Guardian, the top 10 most visited accredited medical practitioners charge fees ranging from S$25 – S$80. Most accredited medical practitioners charge S$50 for the service.

Why should you consider making an LPA?

Without an LPA, your loved ones will need to apply for a court order before they can manage your affairs. This can lead to a time-consuming and expensive process that will further drain your loved ones. Moreover, you cannot appoint a donee for yourself if it is done through a court order.

With an LPA, you can relieve the stress and difficulty for your loved ones by allowing them to act on your behalf. This is especially important if you are the sole breadwinner or if you are plagued with health problems. The LPA also lets you choose your preferred choice of a proxy decision maker whom you can trust to make the right decisions for you.

When should you consider making an LPA?

Most people make two very wrong assumptions about making an LPA. The first assumption is that you do not need to make an LPA if you are healthy. The second assumption is that LPA is only meant for the elderly. However, LPA is just like an insurance. You need to get it while you are young and healthy so that when things turn bad, your donee is there to handle matters for you.

Now that you have everything you need to get an LPA done, why not do it today?

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