Mr Yip Hon Weng: To ask the Minister for Social and Family Development (a) what is the typical duration for the deputyship application process without a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA); (b) what happens when the caregiver is unable to make a successful application; and (c) whether the Ministry will consider mandating registration of LPA for HDB flat buyers so that donees can monetise the flat for the owner's care needs when necessary.
Most applications for appointment of a deputy are completed within 3 to 4 months of filing in the Family Justice Court. In some cases, the process may take longer if the case is complex, documents submitted are incomplete or if someone objects to the application. The application for deputyship can also be made using the Simplified Track. An urgent application under the Simplified Track for example, for one-time emergency funding below S$5,000 can be processed on an expedited basis, usually within three working days. However, where the documentation is incomplete or there is an objection, the approval would take longer. Prior to filing the Deputyship application in the Family Justice Courts, an applicant has to obtain a medical report to support the application. The time taken to obtain the report ranges from 1 to 3 months.
2 There are three reasons why a deputyship application may be unsuccessful. The first is that the Court had determined that the care recipient has not lost mental capacity and is able to make decisions on his own without a need for a deputy. The second reason is that the application was contested and the Court decided to appoint someone other than the applicant caregiver. Third, the applicant caregiver was found by the Court to be unsuitable, in which case the caregiver could ask a family member or close friend to apply to be appointed as deputy. If there is no suitable family member or close friend, the caregiver may approach a Professional Deputy registered by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). The list of registered Professional Deputies can be found on OPG’s website. Where the care recipient has limited assets and no or little support from the next-of-kin, a pro bono Panel Deputy could also be appointed.
3 Nevertheless, caregivers who are not appointed as deputies may still perform acts in connection with the care or treatment of a person without mental capacity such as bringing the person for a medical check-up, if the acts are done in the person’s best interests. Regardless of whether there has been a deputy or donee appointed, medical practitioners may decide on any life-sustaining treatment or treatment to prevent serious deterioration of a person.
4 My Ministry does not plan to mandate the making of an LPA in tandem with significant transactions such as the purchase of a property, as it should be the donor’s choice on whether he wants to make an LPA. However, we are working with other Ministries and Statutory Boards, including the Housing and Development Board, to increase awareness of the importance of an LPA at relevant life milestones. We had also put out a consultation paper from 28 October to 18 November last year on the development of a full online LPA registration process and other improvements. The proposed initiatives are to make it more convenient for Singaporeans to make their LPAs, which we hope will drive uptake.