What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

last power

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows a person who is 21 years of age or older to plan how his affairs is to be managed should he lose his mental capacity. In the LPA, the person making the LPA (known as the “donor”) appoints one or more persons (known as the “donee[s]“) to act and make decisions on his behalf should he lack the mental capacity in the future. The donee is given the authority to make decisions about the donor’s personal welfare and/or property and financial matters.

In brief, it allows you to choose someone you trust to be reliable and competent to act on your behalf in the event that you lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions.

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.

Why get a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Without a Lasting Power of Attorney, a court order would have to be obtained in order to administer the affairs of a person who lacks mental capacity. This court order is one where the court appoints a person to be  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.

How to get a Lasting Power of Attorney?

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 you to create an LPA.

The certificate issuer can either be a practising lawyer, a psychiatrist, or an accredited medical practitioner. The certificate issuer will generally charge a fee for certification. We can help you find a lawyer here.

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). You would still need a certificate issuer but the lawyer drafting out the terms can likely also certify the LPA.

In order for an LPA to be validly created, it needs to be registered with the OPG. Thus, the final step is to post your Lasting Power of Attorney application to the OPG. They will then contact you for payment and other details. The OPG has announced that there will be a fee waiver of the $50 LPA application fee for registration using Form 1 for Singapore citizens from 1st September 2014. For Form 2, the application fee is $200.

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