Near 160 per cent jump in guardians appointed last year

There was a big jump last year in the number of people appointing guardians to make decisions on their behalf should they lose their mental faculties, after the process was made cheaper and easier.

In all, about 8,360 applications for the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) were accepted, an increase of almost 160 per cent over the previous year.

About seven out of 10 applications are made by people aged 56 and older.

The LPA is a legal document that lets a person appoint an individual to make key decisions for him when he becomes unable to do so. Anyone who is at least 21 years old can draw or be named in the LPA.

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin disclosed the figures yesterday when replying to Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng.

The changes that made the process easier and more convenient were introduced in late 2014.

The basic form used by most applicants was simplified, with fewer legal and technical jargon, and reduced from 15 pages to eight.

The $50 application fee for the form was also waived for citizens.

There is another form for those with larger, more complicated assets and who wish to grant specific authorisation to their appointees.

Its $200 fee is not waived.

The fee waiver, which started in September 2014, will end on Aug 31 this year.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Social and Family Development said the ministry is studying the possibility of extending the waiver.

Since the LPA scheme began in 2010, more than 20,000 LPAs have been accepted - a figure Mr Seah said was "too small", given the much larger number of people eligible to sign up for an LPA.

Mr Tan agreed but added: "It's a balance between making (the application process) easy, and safeguarding the interests of the individual."

He said he would look into how to make people more aware of it.

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