Many young adults today have learned to plan ahead for their future. You might have started by reducing unnecessary spending, buying insurance, and later, investing money to build up your emergency fund. While most do it to have a better retirement life, part of saving up also helps prevent inconveniencing your family should you need to be cared for in the future.
However, have you planned for the possibility that you might lose your mental capacity? To be fully prepared, this is where the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) comes in. Follow as Planner Bee looks at what LPA is, the benefits of LPA, how to apply it and why now.
What is Lasting Power of Attorney?
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the “Donor”) appoint one or more persons (the “Donees”) to make decisions and act on your behalf should you lose mental capacity.
You can only make your LPA if you are over 21 years old and have the mental capacity to do so. The donees can be appointed to act in two areas: personal welfare, and property and affairs.
Benefits of LPA
One of the main benefits of LPA is having appointed someone you trust to take care of your affairs should you lose the mental capacity to do so. You have the chance to make a well-considered choice for the decision-maker of your affairs ahead of time, should you become mentally vulnerable one day.
Having an LPA also helps relieve the stress placed on your family members in difficult times. Without an LPA made, they will need to apply for a Deputyship order before they can make decisions for you. This can hinder your family’s ability to care for you right away. Your loved ones will not be able to make care arrangements, manage your finances, and decide on the best way to use your money for day-to-day care purposes. A Deputyship order can also take time to process, and tends to cost more than LPA.
Powers in an LPA
Your Donee can be authorised to make decisions on your behalf regarding personal welfare, including healthcare-related decisions, and property and affairs, which includes financial matters. They can also be granted specific powers indicated in your LPA.
According to the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), “a personal welfare Donee helps to make decisions on behalf of the Donor, relating to matters such as where the Donor should stay and his daily activities.” The donee can be authorised to decide where and who the donor should live, day-to-day care, and handle the donor’s personal correspondences.
As an LPA can appoint more than one Donee on the same issues, the Donor can decide beforehand if donees must act together or can make individual decisions. According to MSF, appointing the Donees to act jointly, or jointly and severally is characterised as such:
- Jointly: The Donees must act together and not individually. When any one Donee is no longer able to act, all the donees in the joint appointment will be terminated.
- Jointly and severally: The Donees can make the decisions together or individually. Both types of decisions are valid. One Donee can act without consulting the other Donee.
- If you appoint more than one Donee and do not specify how they are to act, the law assumes they are to act jointly.
There are two forms for LPA, with the majority of Singaporeans using Form 1. According to MSF, the two types of forms have these differences:
|LPA Form 1||LPA Form 2|
|For Donors who wish to grant Donee(s) general powers with basic restrictions.|
For Donors who wish to grant Donee(s) customised powers.
|98% of Singapore Citizens who have made an LPA used the LPA Form 1.|
The clauses in the LPA Form 2 have to be drafted by a lawyer.
The lawyer for LPA Form 2 refers to a “Singapore solicitor qualified to practise Singapore law in a Singapore law practice.”
How to Apply for LPA?
The MSF launched the Office of Public Guardian Online (OPGO) on 14 November 2022, which seeks to digitalise LPA applications. According to ChannelNewsAsia, the OPGO offers “applicants greater ease, convenience, and security”.
Instead of the traditional hardcopy forms, all applications will be submitted online and digitally signed via Singapass. A hardcopy LPA form can be submitted if it fits the exceptional situations decided by MSF.
Donees will be notified via SMS or email when the Donor submits the LPA form. They can accept the LPA through the OPGO portal.
Thereafter, the Donor will visit a Certificate Issuer (CI) who will ensure that “you are not being forced or deceived into making an LPA, and understand the purpose of the LPA and the powers given” to sign the LPA digitally via Singapass. CIs are accredited medical practitioners, practising lawyers, and/or registered psychiatrists. The CI will certify and submit the LPA through the OPGO portal on Donor’s behalf.
MSF has also given a list of the 10 most visited CIs and the range of fees charged. The fees charged will depend on the case’s complexity. As of July 2022, the majority of the top 10 most visited accredited medical practitioners charged $50 or less.
To encourage more Singaporeans to plan ahead and apply for an LPA, OPGO has extended the LPA Form 1 application fee waiver for Singapore Citizens to 31 March 2023. Without the fee waiver, it will cost $75 to apply with LPA Form 1 for Singapore Citizens, $100 for Singapore PRs, and $250 for foreigners.
To submit an LPA Form 2, it will cost $200 to apply with LPA Form 1 for Singapore Citizens, $250 for Singapore PRs, and $300 for foreigners. The fee waiver until 31 March 2023 does not apply to Form 2 applications. The fees are collected regardless of the LPA application outcome.
Losing mental capacity can pose a huge challenge for both the patient and their family members, especially when it comes to handling their day-to-day care. It is something worth planning for ahead of time. Have you made your LPA? Share your experience with the Planner Bee team via firstname.lastname@example.org.