No LPA? Expect long court process, high cost

Expect complications if a person suffers from mental incapacity in the absence of the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), Ms Ang Kim Lan of Goodwins Law Corporation warned.

She said the family will be hit by a double whammy - a lengthy period of time for the court to approve deputies to act for the incapacitated person, as well as the high cost involved.

The time required to obtain the court's approval to appoint deputies is at least six months, and the cost typically starts from $8,000, excluding disbursements.

There is no prescribed number of deputies. If there is more than one deputy, they may ask the court to act jointly or severally. However, the deputies are required to submit a single affidavit.

If the deputy or deputies wish to appoint a successor deputy, the successor deputy will also need to submit an affidavit to the court.

WHY THE PROCESS IS LENGTHY

1. Third parties are involved in several stages of the application:

•A doctor's report and affidavit is required by the court. This involves making an appointment for the incapacitated person to be examined, and waiting for the doctor's report to be generated and sworn into court by the doctor. If large medical institutions are involved, the process might take more time.

•The consent of relevant people needs to be submitted to the court. Usually, these are immediate family members and other close relatives.

If a home or any other organisation which provides residential accommodation is involved, they will also need to give consent.

These relevant people have to be gathered together so that the application can be explained to them, and they will have to sign their acknowledgment and consent which will then be submitted to the court.

If there is a will, beneficiaries are also considered relevant persons, and must give their consent. 2. The affidavit of the deputy requires a declaration of the mentally incapacitated person's assets and liabilities, as well as the monthly expenditure - broken down into categories such as medical care, accommodation, food expenses, domestic helper expenses and so on. Applicants may need some time to gather the information. 3. Searches have to be made to ensure that there is no existing LPA or Mental Capacity Act court order given in respect of the mentally incapacitated person. This will take a few days. 4. During the process of the application, there will be several court hearings where the registrar or judge clarifies any queries he or she may have regarding the application. The registrar or judge may ask for certain changes or more information and this can prolong the process.

Lorna Tan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 23, 2016, with the headline 'No LPA? Expect long court process, high cost'. Print Edition | Subscribe