From September, Singaporeans will find it easier and cheaper to appoint someone to make financial and health decisions for them if they lose mental capacity.
The $50 registration fee for the basic form for the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) will be waived for two years.
With this move, applicants using Form 1 need pay only for the professional fees of LPA certificate issuers, such as accredited general practitioners, psychiatrists or lawyers, which can cost at least $50.
Form 1 - used by more than 97 per cent of applicants - has also been simplified and cut from 15 pages to eight pages.
Form 2, at $200, is for those who have larger, more complicated assets and wish to grant specific authorisation to their appointees. About one in five applications was rejected due to gaps or mistakes in the forms since the start of this year.
Applicants will also be able to submit their forms through the post rather than in person. SingPost will provide free postal service for such submissions for two years. Details of this will be released later.
These tweaks were announced by Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing yesterday at HDB Hub in Toa Payoh. He was at a workshop for people who have been appointed by the Mental Capacity Court to act on behalf of those who have lost their mental capacity and have no LPA.
Mr Chan hopes that more people - especially younger Singaporeans and those shouldering heavy family responsibilities - will take advantage of the simpler process and protect themselves from complications down the road.
"In an Asian society, generally people think some of these topics are quite taboo. But our message to everyone is that we never really know when we need (the LPA), and don't leave it till it is too late," he said.
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) said it received 6,511 successful applications since it was set up in 2010.
Based on its annual reports, most (68 per cent) were made by people aged 56 and older, while only 3 per cent were by those aged between 21 and 34.
In each of the 848 cases handled by the Mental Capacity Court during the same period, a deputy had to be appointed for the mentally incapacitated. About 40 per cent of these resulted from disorders such as dementia.
Businessman Francis Goh, 62, who attended the workshop yesterday with his wife, administrative assistant Lilian Sim, 67, wished he had urged her brother to sign up earlier.
The 64-year-old man, who was retrenched from his senior insurance executive job more than five years ago, had a heart attack three years ago while cycling.
Since then, his health has deteriorated to the point where he cannot make sound decisions.
Mr Goh said: "We were lucky that we found a lawyer to do pro bono work for us. Otherwise the legal proceedings would have cost us $25,000 or more. Nothing could have prepared us for the speed in which dementia set in."
This article was first published on July 13, 2014.
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