We save for rainy days and invest for our retirement.
One crucial aspect for planning for retirement is how we plan to handle our personal welfare and monetary affairs, if we lose capacity to do so.
This is where a Lasting Power Attorney (LPA) comes into play.
In a nutshell, an LPA allows you to appoint someone you trust to act on your behalf if you lose mental capacity.
This person can make important medical and financial decisions.
Here’s how an LPA works and why you should make one.
This article was written by a Financial Horse Contributor.
What kind of decisions can donees make?
The LPA appoints one or more donees to be your proxy decision-maker. The donee(s) powers depend on what the LPA grants.
There are two types of powers.
- Personal Welfare: This includes making decisions on healthcare matters, where you should live and who you should live with.
- Property & Affairs: This includes making decisions like what to do with your property and managing your bank accounts.
You can authorise your donee to make decisions on either your personal welfare, property & affairs, or both.
Why is it important to make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Most agree that writing a will or making a CPF nomination is important.
Making an LPA is also an important part of planning for old age.
There are several reasons why this is important.
On a practical level, creating an LPA protects your interest. Plan ahead and appoint someone you trust to fulfil your wishes while you’re of sound mind.
Having an LPA also spares your loved ones from difficult court processes. Without an LPA, they must apply for a court order to manage your affairs. This is a complex, time-consuming and expensive task.
Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for Social and Family Development, cites this real-life example.
Mr Goh’s sister was diagnosed with advanced dementia before making an LPA. With an LPA, Mr Goh could make decisions on his sister’s behalf almost immediately.
Instead, Mr Goh had to spend six months and $7,000 in legal fees to be appointed as his sister’s deputy. Only then did he have powers to decide on her personal welfare and access her bank account to pay for medical care.
There’s also an emotional benefit to an LPA. Incidents can happen out of the blue. This will create an emotionally charged situation. The last thing you want your loved ones to do is to argue over financial and care decisions.
Without an LPA, it puts a ton of stress on loved ones to make difficult decisions in a crisis. The LPA eliminates the need to decipher your choices and desires. This provides peace of mind, knowing they’ve respected your preferences.
How to create a Lasting Power of Attorney?
The Ministry of Social and Family Development has a helpful step-by-step guide for applying for LPA.
Here’s how you do it.
Step 1: Choose your Donee(s).
Choose someone you can trust to make decisions on your behalf. The donee must also be above 21 years old.
Then, decide what powers to grant them (personal welfare, property & affairs, or both)
You may appoint them to act jointly if you have more than one donee. This means that they must act together to make decisions.
You can also appoint them to act jointly & separately. This means each donee can make decisions independently without needing approval from other donees.
Having multiple donees provides more protection against a donee acting against your wishes. But with too many donees, you risk making it difficult for donees to come to a consensus.
Step 2: Draft your Lasting Power of Attorney online
Log in to the Office of the Public Guardian Online (OPGO) via Singpass, where you can draft your LPA.
Your donees will receive the draft to accept their appointments. The donees can also do this through the OPGO.
You can submit a Form 1 or Form 2 for your LPA. 98% of Singaporeans use Form 1. This grants donee(s) general powers with basic restrictions.
Form 2 requires a lawyer to draft customised powers granted to your donee.
Step 3: See a Certificate Issuer (CI)
You need to see a Certificate Issuer (CI) to witness and certify your LPA.
A CI ensures you are not forced or deceived into making an LPA and understand its purpose and the powers it grants.
A CI can be a medical practitioner accredited by the Public Guardian, a practising lawyer or a registered psychiatrist.
Step 4: Receive your digital LPA
Submit your LPA to the OPGO for registration once it’s certified.
There is a mandatory 3-week waiting period to receive valid objections. You’ll then receive an SMS/email notification when your LPA is registered.
Make your Lasting Power of Attorney today
Singaporeans who wish to make a LPA, can do so for free until 31 March 2026.
The $75 LPA Form 1 application fees are waived until the end of March 2026.
It is never too early to start thinking about making an LPA, even if you are in good health.
To get started, you can visit the OPGO website.
If you are making an LPA, you should also make an Advanced Care Plan (ACP). This appoints your donee as your nominated healthcare spokesperson.
We’ll cover the ACP and its importance in the next article — stay tuned!