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A silver tsunami is due to hit Singapore in a couple of decades. Are we prepared for it? As the saying goes, “always plan ahead, it wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”
Since the Mental Capacity Act was enacted in 2010, we can now plan for the time when we should lose our mental capacity and become vulnerable due to our circumstances. We have now the tool to do so – a Lasting Power of Attorney.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?
It is a legal document that allows a person who is 21 years of age or older (known as the Donor) and who has mental capacity, to voluntarily appoint one or more persons (known as Donees) to act and make decisions on his behalf about his personal welfare matters, property and affairs matters or both matters should he lose his mental capacity to make those decisions in the future.
Advantage of a Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a very important and beneficial pre-planning tool.
It allows you to appoint someone whom you trust to look after your affairs and do the right thing for you when you are not capable of doing so yourself.
It obviates the need for your family to seek a court order to be appointed as a deputy to enable them to make a decision on your behalf when you lose your mental capacity.
The last thing you would want is to add unnecessary stress for your loved ones in times of difficulty. Furthermore, involving the court would inevitably mean more financial cost to be incurred by your loved ones.
What can a Lasting Power of Attorney Cover?
A Lasting Power of Attorney covers 2 broad scopes – personal welfare and property and affairs.
(a) Personal welfare includes decisions involving:-
- Healthcare matters
- Where the Donor should live
- Who the Donor should live with
- What social activities the Donor should take part in
- Who the Donor may have contact with, etc.
(b) Property and affairs include decisions involving:-
- Buying, selling, mortgaging of the Donor’s property
- Opening, closing and operating the Donor’s bank accounts
- Handling the Donor’s tax matters
- Investing the Donor’s money
- Paying the Donor’s rent, mortgage and expenses, etc.
Situations When a Lasting Power of Attorney is needed
Mental capacity is assessed according to the ability of a person to make a specific decision at the time the decision needs to be made. Informal assessment of a person’s capacity to make day to day decisions (such as what to eat and wear) are usually made by the caregiver. Accredited general practitioners (GPs) who have been specially trained to conduct mental capacity assessments and medical specialists in mental health can conduct formal assessments of mental capacity.
A formal assessment of mental capacity may be required when it is doubtful the person can make a serious decision such as selling a property, undergoing surgery or moving to a nursing home.
Generally speaking, conditions such as the following can cause a lack of mental capacity:-
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Illnesses associated with old age
- Brain injury
- Intellectual disabilities that affects our mental faculties
Most of us are aware that a Will is needed to take care of our affairs when we pass away. Equally important is having a Lasting Power of Attorney to take care of our affairs and well-being when we should lose our mental capacity. We should afford ourselves this peace of mind by ensuring that we have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place for such a time when we should need it.
Advocate & Solicitor
The above article is intended to provide general information. Although we endeavour to ensure that the information contained herein is accurate, we do not warrant its accuracy or completeness or accept any liability for any loss or damage arising from any reliance thereon. The information herein should not be treated as a substitute for separate legal advice concerning particular situations. If you would like to obtain advice, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Gary, +65 9107 5225, [email protected], M/s Sim Mong Teck & Partners.
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