More details needed on new Professional Deputies and Donees scheme

At first glance, the Professional Deputies and Donees scheme appears to benefit the public (Professional Deputies and Donees scheme launched; Sept 22).

However, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) appear not to have clearly defined the administrative procedures of the policy.

The news report states that this scheme focuses more on singles or those who may not have families or close friends. Would this scheme also apply to issues of disagreement in the appointment of deputies among siblings?

If one needs to apply to the court to appoint a professional deputy to make decisions on behalf of a person who has lost his mental capacity, it would mean that high legal expenses have to be incurred. Has this been addressed?

The report also notes that MSF will not regulate the fees charged by these professionals. This is a disappointment.

Currently, the fees for a certificate issuer to certify that the donor knows the implications of making a Lasting Power of Attorney vary from below $100 to as high as a few hundred dollars.

MSF should release a recommended fee guideline for such professionals.

If the professional, be it a practising lawyer, psychiatrist or a medical practitioner accredited by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), feels that the prescribed fee is too low, he could choose not to take up the role of the certificate issuer.

The process of looking for a certificate issuer can be made easier if MSF is more proactive in studying the administrative process and regulating the fees charged.

It is also mentioned that the OPG protects the interest of the mentally incapacitated. Will proper training be given to the OPG team to deal with such situations, and will they have the legal right to raise a charge on the deputies if they do not perform their duties in due diligence?

More details on these matters will be needed.

Low Hong Ling (Ms)