Have you ever wondered what it might be like when you can no longer make decisions for yourself? You cannot select what to wear or do later, or remember what you did last night, or choose what to eat and who to live with. Or perhaps, it is unimaginable that such a day may come?
Most of us look forward to a brighter-looking future; and tend to avoid planning for contingencies in our life. Yet life often presents us with unexpected challenges which catch us unprepared. A motor accident tomorrow could leave someone in a coma. Our mental capacity may be impaired over time after relentless pressures at home or at work. In old age, dementia may creep up on us causing memories to fail by the day. All these can cause erosion or even loss of mental capacity all together.
What is the Mental Capacity Act?
The Mental Capacity Act allows individuals to voluntarily appoint one or more persons to decide and act on their behalf, if they were to lose their mental capacity someday. Through a legal instrument, the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), an individual may voluntarily appoint one or more trusted persons to decide and act on his behalf in two broad areas: personal welfare and/or property and affairs matters.
Personal welfare matters cover largely lifestyle decisions such as your place of residence or how you want to be cared for.
Property & affairs matters refer to the management of your bank account, finances, property and assets.
Protect your Interests with a Lasting Power of Attorney
We cannot predict the future, but we can plan ahead now to protect our personal welfare, assets and wealth should we become vulnerable someday. Make an LPA while you still have the capacity to make your own decisions. Start by looking for a reliable and competent person(s) who can decide and act on your behalf if you should become vulnerable. Appoint that person(s) as your donee(s) through an LPA so that your interests may be protected if you were to lose your mental capacity someday.
Note that the LPA will come into effect only after it has been established that you have lost your mental capacity. In the absence of an LPA then, an application has to be made to the court for a proxy decision maker(s) ('deputy') to be appointed to make specific decisions on your behalf.
Planning ahead will not only protect your interests but also reduce the stress and strains on your loved ones, especially if you are the sole breadwinner. Having an LPA will provide certainty to your loved ones as to how you want your lifestyle and finances to be managed for you if you should become vulnerable.
MAS does not administer the Mental Capacity Act. For more information on the Act and the LPA, visit the website of the Office of the Public Guardian (“OPG”) .
The above information is prepared in collaboration with the Ministry of Social and Family Development .