Singaporeans who want to get someone to make decisions on their behalf should they become mentally incapacitated can do so for free for two more years.
The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) said yesterday it will extend the waiver of the application fee of $75 for the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) Form 1 until Aug 31, 2020. This fee was first waived in 2014 and later extended to Aug 31 this year to encourage more people to make such an arrangement.
Individuals can appoint others through an LPA to make decisions for them, such as those involving their welfare and finances, if they lose their mental capacity.
There are two LPA forms.
Form 1 grants general powers to those acting on the mentally incapacitated person's behalf. Some 98 per cent of Singaporeans who made an LPA used Form 1.
Form 2 is for applicants who want to grant specific or customised powers to those who will make decisions for them and has to be drafted by a lawyer. The application fee for Form 2 is $200 for Singaporeans.
Number of people who have submitted their Lasting Power of Attorney applications to the Office of the Public Guardian as of end March this year.
As of end March this year, more than 43,000 people have submitted their LPA applications to the OPG.
The only fees applicants have to pay is to accredited professionals, such as doctors and lawyers, to certify they have the mental capacity to appoint someone to act on their behalf and are not forced to do so.
The 10 most popular accredited medical practitioners charge between $25 and $80, said a spokesman for the OPG.
The fee waiver may encourage some people, like those from lower-income groups, to get their LPA done, said those interviewed.
Dr Tan Sai Tiang, assistant director of Hua Mei Clinic under the Tsao Foundation, said the waiver might give a nudge to those who are already keen to sign an LPA.
"For those who have not made up their minds to do so, I don't think the fee waiver will have an effect," she added.
Fees aside, there are many reasons why many people have not signed an LPA. Dr Tan said some people do not have anyone they can trust. Others do not want to impose this responsibility, or burden, on others.
Dr Tan Jit Seng, director of Lotus Eldercare, a social enterprise providing eldercare health services, said: "The loss of mental capacity and death is still a taboo in our Asian society and it's not in our culture to talk about it."
Some are also ignorant about the importance of making an LPA, said lawyer Kwok-Chern Yew Tee. She said if a person becomes mentally incapacitated without making an LPA, his family cannot access, for example, the money in his bank account to look after him.
They have to apply to the courts to act as his deputy, which is to make decisions on the mentally incapacitated person's behalf.
This process is a lot more costly and troublesome. Previously, the OPG spokesman has said the cost of applying to court to be a deputy ranges from $3,000 to $10,000, as it includes lawyers' and court fees.