In Singapore, a lasting power of attorney, or LPA, is a legal document that assigns someone the power to make important decisions for you should you lose the mental capacity to do so. Such decisions can relate to your individual welfare, the welfare of your children, your finances, and the properties under your name. In the document, you’ll be referred to as the “donor” of the powers, while those receiving the power to make decisions for you are “donees.” You aren’t limited to only having one donee to execute your LPA; you can have several and assign them either general powers or specific powers.
Many Singaporeans assume that it’s only in their twilight years that LPAs matter. But in truth, no matter how old you are and no matter what your life circumstances are currently like, it’s good to get an LPA. As long as you are over the age of 21 and are of sound mind to assign donees, you can already start the process. Here are six of the best reasons to get this done as soon as possible.
It Will Give You Extra Peace of Mind in These Unpredictable Times
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Singaporeans of all ages have become more worried about getting sick. On top of that, there are other everyday risks that no one can predict, like their chance of getting into a debilitating accident. If anything serious happened to you now, would your family members know how to act—and would they be able to act immediately?
Thus, one of the best reasons to get an LPA now is to give you complete peace of mind about emergencies or other unpredictable events. It won’t matter when these transpire, whether it’s tomorrow or in the next few years. At least one or more of your loved ones will be better equipped to take care of your personal affairs.
It Will Ensure the Most Conflict-Free Fulfilment of Your Personal Interests
There are sticky situations that often come to light only when someone becomes mentally incapacitated or passes away. Relatives and other stakeholders will begin discussing who should be responsible for them and their belongings. Issues that can get particularly thorny are the person’s bank accounts, investments, real estate properties, and physical care. If they can’t see eye to eye about who is best equipped to take charge, then arguments and tension may ensue.
Creating an LPA, on the other hand, can ensure that everyone respects your own wishes about who should be entrusted with your money, assets, and daily care. In this sense, the LPA can pre-emptively resolve any future issues and quell any bitterness or resentment that might arise from your family members.
It Will Help Your Donees Make Difficult Decisions with More Ease
If something happens to you, your loved ones will inevitably have to assume responsibility for some difficult decisions. These include what to do with your money, deciding where you should live, and who should attend to your daily healthcare. These decisions are hard enough to make on their own, but they become extra burdensome when your donees are under great duress.
Though getting an LPA won’t remove the difficulty from such situations, it will at least make each decision much less troublesome to execute. There will be much less stress all around if these decisions are agreed upon beforehand, in ways that align with everyone’s interests.
You Can Save Your Family Members Valuable Time and Money When They Arrange for Your Care
What happens if you suddenly become mentally incapacitated, but you don’t have any LPAs assigned yet? If that’s the case, that means that your family members will have to go through the court system to get a legal appointment.
Compared to filing for an LPA, going to the courts will take longer and will be more expensive. There’s also no guarantee that the legal appointment will be made quickly. That means that your loved ones may face additional difficulties resolving issues related to your care or that of your children. For example, it may be among your intentions to sell one of your properties so that your future cash situation will be more liquid. But without an LPA designating someone to do that, your loved ones can’t act without authority from the court, and your assets could stay frozen. In turn, your relatives may struggle looking for an appropriate means to take care of you and your dependents.
It Isn’t Hard to Create an LPA in Singapore
There are two types of LPAs that you can make in Singapore. The first is the LPA Form 1, which is a standard version affording donees general powers and holding them to certain restrictions. The second is the LPA Form 2, which grants specific or customised powers to donees. The drafting of the LPA Form 2’s Annex to Part 3 should be overseen by a lawyer.
Most Singaporean citizens choose the LPA Form 1 option because it’s easy to complete. There are only three steps that you need to take if you choose to file LPA Form 1:
- Choose your donee or donees.
- Acquire an LPA certificate from an accredited medical practitioner, psychiatrist, or lawyer. This certificate confirms that you are getting the LPA done of your own free will, without any hindrances to your current mental capacity.
- Submit the filled-out LPA Form 1 to the Singapore Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Office of the Public Guardian. You can do this through post.
You Can Determine the Extent of Your Donees’ Powers
If you choose the second option, or LPA Form 2, you’ll have the ability to determine the extent of each of your donees’ powers. Say for example you know that one of your family members is best disposed to take care of your children. But perhaps you would choose another relative to entrust with your assets, like real estate.
The LPA Form 2 will allow you to act on that knowledge and assign the best people in your family to make those decisions. You can also determine whether your donees have to act jointly or whether they can do so separately.
There’s no telling whether your health will stay good for a long time, or whether it may suddenly take a turn for the worse. But with an LPA, you don’t have to wait until the last moment to have your interests taken care of. Your loved ones can immediately step in and watch over you, as well as dependents like your children. Entrusting your interests to the right people, right now, is one of the best things you can do for both them and for yourself. Don’t delay in filing for an LPA, and start as soon as you’ve decided on your donees.