More Singaporeans sign up for Lasting Powers of Attorney

Thursday, Jan 28 2016 08:35 AM

SINGAPORE — The Government received more than 20,000 applications for Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) since the Mental Capacity Act came into force in 2010, with the take-up rate jumping significantly last year from the year before, Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said in Parliament today (Jan 28).

Nevertheless, Member of Parliament (MP) Seah Kian Peng (Marine Parade) noted that 20,000 was a very small number, considering that every Singaporean should sign up for it.

The LPA is a legal instrument that allows an individual to appoint a person whom he trusts to make decisions on his behalf should he lose his mental capacity.

Last year, about 8,360 LPA applications were received, a jump of nearly 160 per cent compared with 2014, Mr Tan revealed.

The take-up rate had risen since changes were made to ease the application process, including simplifying application forms.

Statistics showed that most who applied were above 50 years old, Mr Tan said.

When asked by Ms Denise Phua (Jalan Besar GRC) about the main barriers to having a higher take-up rate, he cited inertia and a lack of awareness as among the reasons.

Mr Tan said the Government would be happy to consider the suggestion by Marine Parade GRC MP Fatimah Lateef that one-to-one counselling sessions with an outsourced partner or voluntary welfare organisation be provided to encourage the elderly to apply for LPA.

Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC) also suggested leveraging on the Pioneer Generation Office (PGO) to advise those in this group about the LPA.

Mr Tan said it was something the Government could consider, but added: “We also don’t want to overly burden them (the PGO) with too many things.”

On the pilot programme begun in 2014 to appoint a panel of volunteers to serve as deputies for incapacitated individuals, Mr Tan said there has been positive feedback on how such individuals have benefited. His comments were in response to a question by MacPherson MP Tin Pei Ling on the efficacy of the initiative.

He noted that the number of mentally incapacitated individuals without family, friends or anyone else who could act as their proxy decision-makers was small, but could increase.

There are plans to amend the Mental Capacity Act this year to allow professional donees and deputies to be appointed in such circumstances.

For incapacitated individuals without prospective deputies or the means to afford private-sector services, a panel of professionals who could apply to be appointed as their deputies — currently numbering 18 — has been formed to help them, Mr Tan added.


PUBLISHED: 2:32 PM, JANUARY 28, 2016 UPDATED: 1:42 AM, JANUARY 29, 2016


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