Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said on Monday (Aug 15) on the MSF Conversations blog: “We spend much of our lives planning for our future – from simple things like what to have for lunch, to more complex things like our career path or family planning.”
“But what do we do when the unexpected happens? What if we are suddenly unable to make our own decisions or care for ourselves? It is a tough question that we all need to think about.”
LPA applicants have two forms to choose from. Form 1 grants general powers and meets the needs of the vast majority of Singaporeans, said the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), while Form 2 allows for special requirements and customised powers.
Mr Tan said: “There’s no harm in planning ahead for a rainy day. I encourage everyone to make a Lasting Power of Attorney early to give ourselves and our loved ones peace of mind in the event that the worst does happen.”
According to the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) on 15 August 2016, fees for Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) form 1 applications will be waived for a further two years.
The press release stated that the fee waiver has been extended for another two years till 31 August 2018. It is “to encourage more Singaporeans to plan ahead with an LPA to protect their interests.”
What is Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
An LPA is a legal document which allows a person who is at least 21 years of age (‘donor’), to voluntarily appoint one or more persons (‘donee(s)’), to make decisions and act on his behalf as his proxy decision maker if he should lose mental capacity one day. A donee(s) can be appointed to act in two broad areas: personal welfare as well as property & affairs matters.
Over 13,000 Singaporeans have made LPAs. Do note that there are many types of powers of attorney, and that the LPA is one special type that applies in the loss of mental capacity.
Why do I need an LPA?
An Institute of Mental Health study found that dementia strikes one in 10 Singaporeans aged 60 and above. As our society ages, many of us are increasingly at risk of losing our mental capacity.
“It can happen to any of us. And if it does, I’m sure we would want someone we trust to make those important decisions such as our finances or those relating to our health and welfare on our behalf” said Minister Tan Chuan-Jin.
An LPA allows you to appoint someone you trust who can step forward automatically to act on your behalf in the event the doctor certifies that you have lost mental capacity.
Having an LPA allows your loved one to avoid the having to apply to be your Deputy from the court should you lose your mental capacity to make your own decisions. This also saves them thousands of dollars and avoid family disputes on who should make decisions for you.
An LPA would allow donee to immediately manage your matters (personal welfare / Financial affairs) instead of having to wait for the court to approve them as the deputy which will take a while.
Having an LPA would make sure everything is taken care of, should anything happen to you.
Without a LPA, a court order would have to be obtained in order to administer the affairs of a person who lacks mental capacity. This means that the court appoints a person to be the court-appointed deputy to manage the affairs of the person who lacks mental capacity. An LPA avoids the hassle of getting a court order, which can be both time-consuming and expensive. Additionally, where a deputy is appointed, you do not get a say in who is appointed to act for you, unlike a LPA. And the truth is, only you know who is the best person to take care of your welfare and financial.
What can the LPA do on your behalf?
The donee is given the authority to make decisions about the donorâ€™s personal welfare and/or property and financial matters. This includes where a donor is to stay and how he is to be cared for. The LPA can also allow the donee to access your bank accounts and other financial tools that you own on your behalf.
When does a person lack capacity?
Under the Mental Capacity Act, a person is defined to lack capacity if he 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”. It does not matter whether the impairment or disturbance is permanent or temporary. Possible examples could include dementia, a stroke or a head trauma as the result of an accident.
Difference between a Lasting Power of Attorney and a Will
A will operates only after the will-makerâ€™s death. The LPA operates after the donor loses his mental capacity.
The LPA does not deal with the distribution of a person’s assets after his death. This is settled according to the terms of his will, or the laws of intestacy is he does not make a will. Therefore, it is very important to make a Will early to determine how your assets are to be distributed.
Where do I obtain the LPA?
The Office of Public Guardian (OPG), which is the government body responsible for the administration of the Mental Capacity Act, provides two forms on its website. For the standard version of the form which grants general powers with basic restrictions to the donees (Form 1), the process is simple. Fill it up, and then find a certificate issuer to certify the form. This is to certify that you understand the purpose of the LPA and consequences of the LPA. It also ensures that there is no fraud or undue pressure used to induce the donor to create the LPA. Do take note that Form 1 gives your done very wide powers. Your donee may act as fully as he/she can.
If you would like to customise the powers given to your donee, you can engage a lawyer to draft out the terms. These can then be attached as annex to a form that the LPA provides (Form 2). Form 2, unlike Form 1, restrict the powers and gives restriction to your done, hence if you do not want to give such wide powers and want to give restricted or specific powers instead, you should use LPA Form 2 (which can be drafted by Rockwills).
Why is Form 2 better than Form 1?
Giving your donee very wide powers sometimes, may not be good.
If you are a Singaporean, there is a high chance that you have come across a high profile case of the legal tussle over an elderly widowâ€™s (Mdm Chung Khin Chun) with a net worth of over 40 million and her ex-tour guide (Yang Tin). This case involves different issues such as LPA, Criminal breach of Trust and Wills. Looking at ex-tour guide Yang Yin case, Yang is given Lasting Power of Attorney(LPA) by Madam Chung in 2012, giving him control over her welfare and assets. He faces two criminal breach of trust (CBT) charges of allegedly siphoning off $1.1 million from Madam Chung according to Straits Times. Although Madam Chung had since revoke her LPA after medically endorsed that she is in mental capacity to revoke her LPA, Madam Chung also made a new Will that will revoke her initial Will that Yang gets most of her money. But with all these done, she still lost a huge portion of her assets, therefore making sure who is in charge of your financial when you are mentally incapacitated is very crucial.
If you are looking at drafting your LPA Form 2, Rockwills can help you to draw up a comprehensive one. Rockwills will act as your Financial Property and Affairs Donee should you lose your mental capacity. This will protect your interests. In addition, Rockwills also provides Will drafting and Private Trust setup services. Should you write your Will with us and assign Rockwills as the Financial Donee, we can better protect your interests as we know what your last wishes are. Appoint a loved one to be your welfare donee and Rockwills as your Financial Donee.
Get your free consultation from our dedicated Rockwills Estate Planner now.