We all know that we should write a will, but too few of us know we
should also consider something called lasting power of attorney.
By 2030, nearly 100,000 people in Singapore will have dementia,
according to the Alzheimer's Society. One in five people over 85 already
suffers from it, with rates significantly higher among women than men. Handling
your financial affairs becomes virtually impossible – which is why charities
who care for the elderly recommend everyone plans ahead to ease the potential
burden on our relatives.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) gives another individual the legal
authority to look after specific aspects of your financial affairs or health
and welfare should you lose the capacity to do so. It's not just for the
elderly; younger people may become incapacitated through accident or illness.
If you do not have an LPA
in place and later become mentally incapacitated, relatives may face long
delays and considerable costs in applying to the Family Court to get access
and take control of your assets and finances.
LPAs are designed to be
recognised by financial institutions, care homes and local authorities, as
well as tax, benefits and pension authorities. They are legal documents that
can be set up relatively cheaply, with or without the help of a solicitor.
You may consider having one alongside your will.
A person administering a
property and financial affairs LPA can make decision on things such as buying
and selling your property, dealing with your bills, running your bank
accounts and investing your money.
You may choose anyone you
trust as your attorney, provided they are over 21, not bankrupt and they are
willing to take on the role, which is a serious responsibility. It is their
duty to make all decisions in your best interests.
To protect your interests,
an LPA must be signed by a certificate provider – a solicitor or someone else
of your choosing – who certifies that you understand the LPA and have not been
pressurised into signing it. You could choose close friends or relatives (other
than your chosen attorneys) who must be formally told that you are setting up
an LPA and given the opportunity to raise any concerns.
Forms and guidance are free and can be downloaded from www.publicguardian.gov.sg
Registering the Form-1
document is simple as our firm will only act as the “certificate provider”.
This may cost no more than S$ 500. However, in case you require specific
instructions that need legal verification, the costs can be higher (this Form-2
document is much more complex).
Our lawyers, Andrew Ho or Jenson Lee Xiancong have done LPA’s and they
can assist you in filling in the forms but also in giving you guidance in the
process so that you feel confident about your decisions. It is important to remember
that an LPA is a serious, powerful document so, if in doubt, ensure that you
are properly represented by a legal firm which you can trust.