SINGAPORE - A new round of certification course is open for professionals like lawyers and social workers who want to help individuals manage their affairs should they lose their mental capacity in future.
It is the second round of certification course for the Professional Deputies and Donees scheme.
First launched in September last year, the scheme allows someone who is mentally sound to hire a person, called a professional donee, to make decisions on his behalf should he lose his mental capacity in the future, for example, through dementia.
The appointment is formalised through a legal document called the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). If an LPA is not done before the person loses his mental faculties, the courts can appoint a professional deputy to make decisions on his behalf.
These professional deputies and donees must not be related to the person they are acting on behalf of, to avoid any conflict of interest.
Only those from selected professions - such as lawyers, accountants, healthcare and social service professionals - who meet the criteria and pass the certification course can apply to be registered as professional deputies. A professional deputy can also act as a professional donee.
There are 17 professional deputies and donees so far in Singapore.
Application for the certification course opened last Friday (Jan 11) and will close on Feb 1.
The Office of the Public Guardian, which protects the interests of the mentally incapacitated, administers the scheme.
Professional deputy and nominated MP Chia Yong Yong, 57, said that the scheme is important in the light of Singapore's ageing population.
"The need has grown more pressing. Our ageing population throws up a number of groups of people needing support in the days when they would have lost mental capacity. These are people who have no kin or those who have very few kin but may not be able to look after them," said Ms Chia, who is also a member of the Council of the Law Society's panel of approved Mediators and Investigative Tribunal.
"As families shrink, family dynamics can become more sensitive.The lack of appointment of a professional donee or deputy could in some circumstances trigger dormant family tension which the senior would least want in his old age," she added.
Professional deputy and lawyer Haryadi Hadi, 36, said: "It's all the more important for people who don't have anyone to appoint. They need to try out this scheme, so that if something happens to them, their assets and well-being are taken care of."
Even though fees are chargeable, Ms Chia would not rule out pro bono cases, even as she takes on full cases.
"People should not look at the fees as a starting point to determine whether they need a professional deputy or donee," she said. "Rather, they should look at their own needs and plan for the long term."