Parliament: Up to individual to decide if family members should be told about LPA

SINGAPORE - It is up to individuals to decide if they want to inform their relatives when and whom they appoint to take care of their welfare and financial affairs under the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), said Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing on Tuesday.

He was responding to questions raised by Aljunied GRC MP Sylvia Lim, who pressed him on whether there are enough safeguards for the LPA scheme, which allows a person aged at least 21 to appoint another to make key decisions should he or she lose the mental ability to do so. She asked why an option informing other persons about the setting up of an LPA was removed this year.

Mr Chan replied that it was removed in response to feedback from applicants who called for the process to be streamlined. He added that the current system allows individuals to decide who they would like to inform when they appoint a donee under the LPA. "Not everyone wants to inform certain family members of their decision and that is the dilemma. We leave it to the best judgment of the individual to inform the person that they want to inform," he said.

Currently, the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), which maintains the LPA registry, can investigate cases if the donee is suspected of not acting in the best interests of the applicant. The Public Guardian can then apply to the court to revoke the LPA. In Parliament, Mr Chan also stressed that the LPA system here is "much more onerous" than that of other countries. In some other countries, for example, a person does not need a professional to certify the setting up of an LPA. In Singapore, all LPA applications have to be witnessed and certified by a lawyer, medical practitioner or psychiatrist.

kcarolyn@sph.com.sg