It took a relative’s predicament (my uncle lost his mental capacity) that jolted me into making a Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’) for my parents. For readers who have been following my blog for some time, you might vaguely remember that my father is as stubborn as an ox. Any topics pertaining to health and death are considered taboo and even bordering on the lack of filial piety. However, having witnessed his own brother’s household struggles, my dad finally softened his stance. I seized this rare and narrow window of opportunity to help both my parents make their respective LPAs.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
The Lasting Power of Attorney allows a person aged 21years and above (‘Donor’) to voluntarily appoint another person(s) (Donee) to make decisions and act on his/her behalf if the donor loses mental capacity one day. (Source: Ministry of Social and Family Development) For instance, it is common that people with dementia may become unable to make decisions for themselves as their condition progresses.
A Donee can be appointed to act in the 2 broad areas of personal welfare and property & affairs matters. Personal welfare refers to making decisions relating to healthcare and daily living, while Property & Affairs refers to financial matters such as managing bank account and property. Do note that the donor can elect either area or both areas as shown in Diagram 1.
The predicament of my cousins was that my uncle had lost his mental capacity and they were unable to dispose the property that he held jointly with my aunt. They had to spend several thousands to obtain a deputyship on top of countless email exchanges with solicitors and HDB. On hindsight, they realised that if my uncle had made an LPA in the first place, they could use it to avoid all these monies and troubles. That is a hugely understated benefit.
What I also found out is that when emails exchanges are looked at in isolation, they are just a minor annoyance. However, when one is dealing with a loved one’s hospitalisation at the same time, such inconveniences can compound disproportionately and contribute to the emotional toll.
Why the rush to make a Lasting Power of Attorney
There has been a deluge of LPA for the Office of the Public Guardian (‘OPG’) to process and register in the month of March. That is because OPG, a division of MSF, is waiving the application fee of $75 for LPA Form 1 for Singaporeans till 31 March 2023 as shown in Diagram 2.
Otherwise it is $75 for Singaporeans, $100 for permanent resident and $250 for foreigners. This explains why more LPA had been processed in March as we approached the tail end of the deadline. My household was in the same boat as I expedited the application for my parents as I was looking to save $150 in application fees.
For those who missed the 31 March 2023 deadline, the good news is that OPG has extended the LPA Form 1 application fee waiver for Singapore Citizens to 31 March 2026. That’s a full 3 years remaining so there should be no mad rush for you.
Steps to Make an LPA
In this digital world today, we are able to make and register our LPA online. This can be done conveniently online at Office of the Public Guardian Online (‘OPGO’).
Step 1: Log on to OPG Online e-service portal with your Singpass. For avoidance of doubt, I am referring to the Donor.
Step 2: Appoint the Donee(s) and get their information such as NRIC and email addresses ready.
Step 3: Once notified, Donee(s) must log on to OPGO to accept their appointment.
Step 4: Meet a certificate issuer who is either a accredited medical practitioner (eg: your GP at the neighbourhood clinic), a practising lawyer or a registered psychiatrist. The certified LPA is submitted to OPGO immediately for registration as shown in Diagram 4.
This step is something that might not be able to do from the comfort of your home. Thankfully, my cousin passed me a contact whereby an in-house legal counsel is able to perform house visits to certify LPA. I was charged $50 per pax for the house visit and certification. I am well aware that there are cheaper alternatives but those involve stepping out of the house and queuing up. Remember that my objective is to make it as convenient as possible so that the resistance level from my dad is contained. In this regard, I am more than willing to pay the little extra premium for a counsel to accommodate to my parents’ schedule.
Step 5: Both donor and donee will be notified of the LPA status via SMS/email when digital LPA is accepted and registered. An infographic summarising the various steps to make and register an LPA can be found on OPG’s website.
End-of-life financial planning
Diagram 5 summarises the various legal documents that my parents can obtain to aid with their respective end-of-life financial planning.
For my mum, the CPF nomination and will were both done online effortlessly. For both occasions, I tried it out myself to provide more confidence to my parent. For those curious, I used MoneyOwl for its will-making service at no additional fee. You can sign up for MoneyOwl using my referral link to receive vouchers.
I consider getting my dad to make the LPA as a big step forward in his end-of-life financial planning. It is not even a small win because I had already given up on persuading him to make it after years of trying. There is still some way to go for the rest of the legal documents but I am glad to get this journey started for him.
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