What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) or what does it mean to lose one’s mental capacity? Here are some of the frequently asked questions when appointing a Professional Deputy or Donee.
TOUCH has a pool of Professional Deputies and Donees (PDD) registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
It is a legal document that allows you, as a Donor, to plan ahead while you still have your mental capacity. You can voluntarily appoint one or more person (Donees) to make decisions and act on your behalf on your personal welfare, property and affairs or both matters should you lack mental capacity in the future.
If you do not have an LPA, your family members are not automatically given the powers to act as your proxy decisions makers regarding your Personal Welfare (including healthcare matters) and/or your Property & Affairs (including your financial matters) such as the opening, closing and operating your bank account(s) and dealing with your property, etc.
Your family member or loved one may have to apply to the Court to be your Deputy, which can be stressful, time consuming and costly and may even result in arguments or family conflicts.
Mental capacity is the ability of a person to make a specific decision at a particular time. Mental capacity is assessed on a case-by-case basis and cannot be assumed based only on the person suffering a particular medical condition. Furthermore, a person’s lack of mental capacity cannot be based only on age, how a person looks, his condition or any aspect of behaviour. A person may have the capacity to make some decisions at a particular time, but not others. For example, a person may be able to go to the market and buy food, but not able to handle large sums of money to make investment decisions. Mental capacity may improve, deteriorate or even fluctuate over time.
When an individual is certified as being mentally incapacitated, your Donee(s) registered in your LPA will be activated and given the legal power to act based on the power that has been granted, be it Personal Welfare, Property & Affairs, or both. Your Donee(s) appointed can make decisions about personal welfare, and Property and Affairs. If this is not possible, your family member will need to apply to the Court to seek a court order to be appointed as a Deputy.
Your Donee(s) should be someone whom you trust, who is reliable and competent to make decisions for you. A Donee must be at least 21 years old. For Personal Welfare, you must appoint an individual to make decisions for you. For Property & Affairs, you can appoint either an individual, or a licensed trust company as defined in the Trust Companies Act.
They have the option to appoint a Professional Donee or Professional Deputy to carry out the duties as stipulated in the Mental Capacity Act for a chargeable fee. All Professional Deputies and Donees must be certified and registered with the OPG. They are required to meet stringent qualifying criteria and pass a certification course.
TOUCH has a pool of registered professionals who can provide this service.
Our fees include a one-time set-up fee and annual fees. When a person becomes mentally incapacitated, the charges for the duties undertaken by the Professional Donees are on an hourly rate. This is based on the powers given by the Donor in the LPA and the hourly rate agreed upon at the point of engagement.
Individuals may also refer to the list of PDD services on the OPG website (www.msf.gov.sg/opg) to find out more.
There are four simple steps:
1. Call us at 9653 1076 for a free consultation
2. Sign the Letter of Engagement for the appointment of a Professional Donee
3. Meet the Professional Donee
4. Complete and submit the LPA form
We will conduct an annual review with all LPA Donors to see if they wish to update their wishes and preferences.
Under the OPG, the Public Guardian, who is the head of OPG, works towards protecting the dignity and interests of individuals who lack mental capacity and are vulnerable.
The OPG maintains a register of Lasting Power of Attorney and a register of court orders that appoints deputies. It certifies, maintains a register and supervises all Deputies and PDDs. All deputies and PDDs need to submit written reports to the OPG, who will investigate any alleged violation of any provision in the Mental Capacity Act, including complaints about the way in which the Donees or Deputies are exercising their powers.
The OPG also has a Board of Visitors to visit persons who lack capacity, Donees or Deputies or to check on the well-being of the person who lacks capacity, as may be requested by the Public Guardian or the Court.
For more information, please visit www.msf.gov/opg.