Quick Guide to the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
They say change is the only constant and this makes the future unpredictable. That is why we save for rainy days, buy insurance plans, and draft our wills. However, even the most ‘kiasu’ Singaporean might overlook an equally important step: doing up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
What is an LPA and why do you need it?
The LPA is a legal document that you (the Donor) use to appoint certain individuals to act on your behalf (the Donee(s)) if you lose your mental capacity. For example, if you suffer from dementia, mental illness, coma, or are temporarily unconscious due to an illness, treatment or accident. In such circumstances, you lose all ability to make decisions on your own accord.
During this period, your Donee(s) will step in to manage your personal welfare, property & affairs, or both. You might be surprised to know that your family members are not your Donee(s) by default. Therefore if you lose your mental capacity before you make an LPA, there will be great inconvenience caused to your family in terms of their ability to care for you and your assets.
The responsibilities of a Donee can range from making care arrangements, managing your bank accounts and any property to watching over your daily needs. In the absence of an LPA, your family members would have to apply to Court to be appointed as your deputy.
While the cost of setting up an LPA can range from $100 – $1,000+ (depending on whether you choose Form 1 or Form 2), the cost of applying for deputyship in court is usually upwards of $4,000, depending on the complexity of the matter.
The court process is lengthy and costly, especially when no proper instructions or directives were given before one loses his mental capacity. Under time-sensitive circumstances, this is not an ideal situation to be in. Therefore, to minimize confusion and stress, make an LPA as soon as you can.
What are the roles in an LPA and what do they entail?
To make an LPA, you (the Donor) must be at least 21 years of age and of full mental capacity. Your Donee(s) must also be at least 21 years old and, ideally, someone you trust and who has your best interests at heart.
If you choose LPA Form 2, you can appoint a corporate Donee to manage your property and affairs. Under Form 2, you can also customise instructions on your care, for example setting aside a certain amount of money to place you in a nursing home, or direct for how you wish for your Donees to look after you at home.
Not sure who in your circles is suitable to be a Donee? Take the personality test in the heritance app to see which member of your ‘Tribe’ is the best candidate.
As mentioned previously, you can appoint your Donee(s) to care for your personal welfare, your property & affairs, or both. If you decide to have more than one Donee, you need to determine how they act: jointly or jointly & severally.
The former means that all Donees must act together as a unit. The latter means that your Donees can either make decisions together or separately. Both are valid options so choose what works best for you.
Who needs an LPA and how can you get one?
Anyone above the age of 21 and of a sound mind should make an LPA because we cannot take for granted any sudden change of circumstance. For your LPA to be recognized in Singapore, it needs to be certified before a lawyer or a doctor, and you will also need to register it with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
Be sure to have all your Donee(s)’ prior approval and endorsement reflected in the form for the LPA to be valid before registering it as well.
Having an LPA done up for yourself and your family members, especially your elderly parents, is one way to plan for the future. If something happens to your parents, the LPA ensures that you have the ability and authority to provide and care for them immediately. Conversely, should something befall you, your family members will also not be caught off guard and fumble to provide the care you need.
You might be interested in these articles:
- DBS. (2020, October 6). Why Lasting Power of Attorney is not just for the elderly. Retrieved from DBS: https://www.dbs.com.sg/personal/articles/nav/retirement-planning/why-lasting-power-of-attorney-is-not-just-for-the-elderly
- MoneySense. (2018, November 5). Lasting power of attorney. Retrieved from MoneySense: https://www.moneysense.gov.sg/articles/2018/11/lasting-power-of-attorney-lpa
- MSF. (2021, May 18). Lasting Power Of Attorney. Retrieved from Ministry of Social and Family Development: https://www.msf.gov.sg/policies/Pages/Lasting-Power-of-Attorney.aspx
- MyLegacy. (n.d.). Make a lasting power of attorney. Retrieved from My Legacy: https://www.mylegacy.gov.sg/end-of-life-planning/make-a-lasting-power-of-attorney/