SINGAPORE: From Aug 1, those who wish to apply for a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) will be able to do so more quickly, under new changes announced on Saturday (Jul 20).
An LPA allows an appointed person to make medical and financial decisions on another person's behalf should they lose mental capacity.
As part of the new changes, the mandatory waiting period before an LPA can be registered will be halved from the current six weeks to three.
"This reduces the overall time required to make an LPA, but it is also sufficiently long for relevant parties to be informed that an LPA has been filed, and to withdraw it if necessary," said Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee.
An online portal will also be set up from Aug 1, to allow people to access their registered LPA electronically.
This will apply to LPAs received from Aug 1, the Ministry for Social and Family Development (MSF) clarified.
Mr Lee, who is also Second Minister for National Development, was speaking at a fundraising event for caregivers of people with dementia organised by the Alzheimer’s Disease Association, during which he encouraged more people to make an LPA.
As of June this year, 67,000 Singaporeans have registered for an LPA.
Currently, one in 10 people aged 60 and above in Singapore has dementia, which translates to an estimated 82,000 people, according to the Institute of Mental Health.
However, this number is expected to exceed 100,000 by 2030.
In view of this, Mr Lee said more needs to be done to support people with dementia as well as their caregivers.
He pointed out that it can be difficult for a family when a family member has been diagnosed with dementia, but has not made an LPA.
"In such cases, family members need to apply to the court to be appointed as a 'Deputy', which would allow them to make important decisions on behalf of their loved one," he said.
This process can sometimes be long-drawn and complicated, and many family members are also unsure of their duties after being appointed as Deputies, said Mr Lee.
As such, the Government has been working to improve support for caregivers and family members, he said.
He highlighted the Committee to Review and Enhance Reforms in the Family Justice System (RERF Committee), set up in November 2017.
Made up of representatives from the Ministry of Social and Family Development, the Ministry of Law, Family Justice Courts, social sector leaders and family lawyers, the committee was set up to review and enhance reforms in the family justice system.
It has made several recommendations, including simplifying the Deputyship application process as well as increasing support for deputies, for example through more accessible training.
The committee will conduct a public consultation exercise to seek views from stakeholders soon, said Mr Lee.
Welcoming Saturday's announcement, the Alzheimer’s Disease Association said the changes would make the process of applying for an LPA easier.
"It (will) encourage more caregivers and family members to apply for an LPA in the face of medical decisions and assets management, allowing them to plan ahead and minimise uncertainty as they care for their loved ones," said Mr Jason Foo, ADA's Chief Executive Officer.