by Growing Needs | Sep 20, 2023 | A Better Tomorrow, Will & LPA
(A) What happens when you do not make a LPA?
One rarely thinks about the loss of one’s own mental capacity. However, what happens in the event that you, one of your family members or close friends loses his/her mental capacity (“Mentally Incapacitated Person or MIP”) whether by effluxion of time from dementia, accident and/or in a coma and money is needed to maintain the MIP or to make a decision on behalf of the MIP? If there is no existing LPA registered with the Office of Public Guardian, there would be a need to go through the Court process to obtain an order for a deputyship court order to administer matters in relation to the Mentally Incapacitated Person’s personal welfare and property and affairs. The deputyship court order allows the deputy appointed (by way of an order of court) to act in situations when a decision is required and you are unable to make the decision on your own because of your mental incapacity to manage your financial and personal affairs. Filing a deputyship application with the Court can be a daunting and intimidating process for many.
(B) Why is it a daunting and intimidating process you may ask?
Firstly, a specialist medical report is required by the doctor to certify, in a Court approved format that you are mentally incapable of managing your financial and personal affairs. Your family member, usually your spouse or adult children will have to take you to the specialist doctor for him/her for an in-depth assessment of you and certify that you lack the mental capacity to make decisions due to an impairment of or disturbance in the functioning of the mind of brain. Such a medical report, from making of the appointment to the finalisation of the specialist medical report could take time, usually about 2 to 4 months’ time frame. Further, the specialist medical report is not cheap. Arrangements would also subsequently have to be made with the said doctor to affirm an affidavit (sworn statement) to confirm the contents of his/her specialist medical report. In the deputyship application to be filed with the Court, the deputy or deputies to be appointed will be required to depose to an affidavit on the assets and liabilities that you have, your current living arrangements and proposed future living arrangements, including how to deal with your finances. Evidence of your assets and liabilities would also have to be disclosed and supporting documents are to be exhibited in the said affidavit. Further, the deputy or deputies to be appointed will have to seek the consent of all relevant persons. Notwithstanding your marital status, your siblings and parents, if alive, will be required to give their consent to the appointment of the deputy or deputies and such consent(s) have to be filed with the Court. On more occasions than not, consents from relevant persons are difficult to obtain, as usually some are disinterested and/or refuse to sign the consent or cannot be found or their identity cannot be determined, the latter especially if you are not close to your siblings or have lost touch with one or more of them. On occasions, the relevant persons may dispute the deputyship application and oppose your said application, in which, the matter would become contested.
If all goes well and all documents are in order, the Court will make the order to appoint the deputy or deputies to make the decision(s) on your behalf, with regards to your personal and financial affairs. However, it is important to note that the deputy’s scope of powers / authorities is confined to only what is covered specifically under the order of court. Further, the deputy is under a duty to make annual reports to the Office of the Public Guardian who act in a supervisory role to the deputy to ensure that there is no abuse of power by the deputy or deputies appointed.
The Court process can take about 4 months from application filed with the Court to order of court made for the appointment of the deputy or deputies.
(C) The Making of a LPA
By making a LPA, you will be able to decide for yourself who is to act for you when you become mentally incapable of managing your personal and financial affairs. You have a say on who to appoint. However, it is important that that person or persons you are appointing as your donee(s) are people whom you believe is trustworthy, reliable and competent to act in your best interests when you no longer could do so for yourself. The making of a LPA not only allows you to safeguard your interests but also alleviates the stress and difficulties your family members or loved ones will face in the event that you lose your mental capacity.
The Office of Public Guardian has extended the LPA Form 1 application fee waiver for Singapore Citizens to 31 March 2026.
Growing Needs would like to thank Mrs Aye Cheng Shone and Ms Natasha Choo, lawyers from A C Shone & Co for their contributions to this article.
Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.