Protecting Yourself and Loved Ones with a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
We cannot control or predict what happens next in life, so it’s wise to be prepared for the unexpected or worst-case scenarios by acknowledging that such situations may occur and taking steps to mitigate their impact.
You can protect your interests and those of your dependents in case you become mentally incapacitated or pass away through a lasting power of attorney (LPA) and a will. These two legal documents serve different purposes and come into effect at different times.
The LPA allows you to plan and appoint people you trust to manage your finances and welfare if you become mentally incapacitated. This takes effect only when you are alive. On the other hand, a will dictates how to distribute your assets after you pass away and becomes effective only upon death. It is common for individuals to have both documents to make sure they have thorough estate and disability planning. These documents must be created when you have the mental capacity to do so.
How to Protect Your Interests with a LPA
Benefits of LPA
Through the LPA, the donor can appoint one or more donees to act on his behalf in case he becomes mentally incapacitated. The LPA grants the donees authority to make decisions about the donor’s personal welfare, healthcare, financial matters, or property.
If you lose mental capacity, your family members are not automatically given the right to make decisions on your behalf or access your money to care for you. Planning ahead with an LPA spares your family the hassle of applying for a court order to be appointed as a Deputy to manage your affairs – a process which is expensive and time-consuming. The LPA allows the donees to take over your personal welfare and affairs immediately if a doctor certifies the donor to have lost his mental capacity, instead of waiting for the entire court process of appointing a Deputy which could take many months.
Making a LPA in Singapore
Governed by the Mental Capacity Act (MCA), there are two main types of LPA in Singapore which provides a legal framework for individuals to plan for their future.
- The LPA for Property and Affairs grants the donees authority to manage the donor’s financial and property matters including assets and investments.
- The LPA for Personal Welfare and Healthcare Decisions allows donees to make decisions about the donor’s personal welfare, including healthcare, living arrangements, and medical treatment.
The LPA becomes legally effective when it is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and witnessed and certified by a Certificate Issuer – typically a lawyer, medical practitioner or psychiatrist.
Individuals who do not have trusted family members or friends who can act as donees need not fret. The MCA was amended in 2018 to allow donors to appoint professional deputies or donees to act on their behalf. Professional donees must be unrelated to the donors. Lawyers, accountants, healthcare and social service professionals can be certified and registered as professional deputies or donees.
Cost of Making a LPA
Making an LPA is affordable compared to the legal fees of getting a court order to become your Deputy, not to mention the stress and difficulties your loved ones would face if you lose mental capacity without an LPA.
The cost of making an LPA consists of the application fees and the professional fees for the Certificate Issuer.
- OPG application fees: Application fees of $75 for Singaporeans until 31 March 2026 to encourage more people to do an LPA. The application fees for Singapore permanent residents and foreigners are $100 and $250 respectively.
- Professional fees for the Certificate Issuer. This is determined by the Certificate Issuer and varies based on the complexity of the case. Accredited doctors normally charge between $25 to $70, lawyers between $50 to $300 and psychiatrists between $154 to $600.
The job of the Certificate Issuer is to certify that the donor understands the purpose of the LPA and the authority conferred upon the donees and is making the decision voluntarily without pressure. The donor can revoke the LPA at any time while they still have mental capacity by writing to the OPG.
The OPG website provides a comprehensive list of Certificate Issuers. Medical practitioners at the St Luke’s Hospital Community Clinic are accredited by the OPG to act as Certificate Issuers to certify and witness the donor signing the LPA Form.
Some people think that they can put off making an LPA because they are young and healthy. But remember, the LPA is not just for the elderly. Younger people may also become incapacitated through accidents or illnesses, so it’s important for everyone to plan ahead with LPA.