Those hired to manage seniors' affairs face stiffer rules

The professionals hired by seniors to manage their affairs when they lose the ability to take care of themselves will soon face stricter rules.

Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee said yesterday that these paid professionals cannot be undischarged bankrupts, people convicted of serious crimes, or those who were involved in civil suits like breach of trust.

He added that his ministry, which is working on a registration scheme for these professionals, has decided to impose these new criteria "as an added layer of protection".

The paid professional scheme was announced by the ministry in December 2015 when it said it was seeking to amend the Mental Capacity Act. This would allow seniors without family or close friends to turn to paid professionals to act as their donees and deputies.

Parliament passed the amendments in March last year.

But while the law that paved the way for the scheme was passed nearly two years ago, Mr Lee said yesterday that the ministry is still working out its details, including the registration of professional deputies.

In response to queries on when the scheme would be ready, the ministry told The Straits Times last night that the certification course is an important component of the framework, to ensure potential professional deputies and donees are knowledgeable about their responsibilities and trained to carry them out in the seniors' best interests.

More details of the scheme will be given "in due course", it added.

In his speech, Mr Lee said his ministry is working with the Singapore University of Social Sciences to develop a training programme for such professionals. They cannot be related to the seniors and are likely to be lawyers, accountants, and healthcare and social service professionals, he added.

Toh Yong Chuan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2017, with the headline 'Those hired to manage seniors' affairs face stiffer rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe