Singapore

Proposal to let people apply online for Lasting Power of Attorney

Singaporeans who want to appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf, should they become mentally incapacitated, may soon be able to apply for the legal document online through a proposed portal by the Office of the Public Guardian.

This will offer greater convenience to applicants and reduce the time needed to get a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) registered.

The Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) is proposing to amend the Mental Capacity Act to allow for the LPA to be registered electronically through its new system.

It is seeking public feedback on the proposed amendments till Nov 18.

Currently, individuals have to sign and submit hard-copy documents to apply for the LPA.

With the proposed Office of the Public Guardian online electronic system, the time needed to register an LPA will be reduced from the current average of three weeks to eight working days.

This excludes the mandatory three-week waiting period under the law, during which a person can withdraw his application and the person appointed to act on his behalf can also raise objections.

There will be various safeguards in place to ensure that a person is not applying for an LPA under duress and understands what he or she is doing.

For example, he or she has to appear in person before the LPA certificate issuer, such as a doctor or a lawyer, to sign the LPA.

The new online system is expected to be ready in the second half of next year.

The proposed amendments will also better protect those who have made an LPA.

For example, if there are grounds to suspect a person was tricked or pressured into appointing a particular person to act on his behalf, the proposed amendments will allow the Public Guardian to interview the person making the LPA.

The Public Guardian may also take other actions, such as applying to the court to determine if the LPA should be registered.

Last year, 28,789 LPA applications were received, the MSF spokesman said.

The public can refer to details of the amendments on government e-consultation portal Reach, and e-mail feedback to consultations@msf.gov.sg

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