Public feedback in favour of proposed changes to Mental Capacity Act: MSF

Visitors at the Ministry of Social and Family Development's (MSF) Social Service Office located at Bukit Merah.
Visitors at the Ministry of Social and Family Development's (MSF) Social Service Office located at Bukit Merah.PHOTO: BERITA HARIAN

SINGAPORE - After a public consultation exercise last month on proposed changes to the Mental Capacity Act, most of those who gave feedback supported the changes, said the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) on Tuesday (Jan 12).

The Mental Capacity Act allows adults to legally appoint someone to take charge of their welfare and estate in the event that they lose mental capacity.

A total of 24 submissions were sent in by individuals and organisations from Dec 7 to 28 last year, including from the Law Society of Singapore, the Association of Banks in Singapore and the Life Insurance Association Singapore, said the MSF in a media release.

Contributors were in favour of introducing professional donees and deputies to make decisions on behalf of someone who has lost mental capacity, in order to help singles and the elderly living alone. But the feedback was also that the family should remain the first line of support and care.

Some also suggested safeguards to prevent financial strain on the mentally incapacitated person, such as a stipulated fee structure or having at least two professional donees or deputies.

The MSF said that the Family Justice Courts will appoint the professional deputies who will be supervised by the Office of the Public Guardian.

"We will monitor the professional doneeship and deputyship sector to assess the need for additional regulations, and look into developing non-profit options for those who cannot afford such services," the ministry said.

Contributors supported the proposals to revise the grounds on which the Court can revoke a Lasting Power of Attorney - a legal instrument to allow someone to act on a person's behalf if the latter loses mental capacity - or deputyship order.

They also supported the proposal to allow the Court to suspend powers of a donee or deputy temporarily in the absence of a pending Court application.

MSF said suggestions from banks and insurance companies on operational matters would be taken into account when the amendments are implemented.

The ministry thanked members of the public who provided feedback and said it will consider all feedback in its review of the proposed Bill.

The summary of responses can be found on the website for the Government's e-consultation portal, Reach.