Seeing your loved one navigate life without the mental capacity to make critical decisions is undeniably heart-wrenching. It’s not just the emotional weight of watching someone you care about grapple with challenges; it’s also the myriad of uncertainties you face daily.
Questions such as, “Who will manage their finances?” or “How do I ensure their well-being is not compromised?” frequently cloud the mind. These are genuine concerns. It’s about the emotional strain and the practical challenges of ensuring their safety, well-being, and financial security.
So, where does one turn for guidance?
The solution lies in deputyship in Singapore, a practical framework provided by our legal system wherein the Family Courts have provisions for appointing a deputy tasked with making critical decisions for a person who may not have the mental capacity to do so.
In this article, we’ll help you understand what a deputy is, how to apply, the cost , and much more.
What Is The Mental Capacity Act In Singapore
The Mental Capacity Act protects individuals who lack mental capacity and ensures their interests are well looked after. Central to this Act is deputyship, allowing a nominated person (a deputy) to make decisions on behalf of someone with limited mental capacities.
For parents with children under the age of 21 who have intellectual disabilities, the Mental Capacity Act (MCA) offers a safeguard. Their prevailing worry usually revolves around the uncertain future care of their children, especially if any unforeseen circumstances befall the parents, such as death or loss of their own mental capacity.
Through the MCA, these parents can appeal to the Court to designate a deputy, thus ensuring that their child’s forthcoming care is solidified.
When Is A Person Considered To Be Under Mental Incapacity?
Mental incapacity isn’t just a fleeting moment of confusion. For an individual to be deemed mentally incapacitated, they must have a consistent inability to make decisions.
This can be due to conditions like dementia, certain neurodegenerative diseases, or severe learning disabilities. Especially crucial in deputyship for special needs in Singapore, this representation ensures tailored care and consideration for those most vulnerable.
Who Is A Deputy?
In situations where an individual loses mental capacity, and there’s an absence of a pertinent Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), a deputyship in Singapore becomes crucial.
A deputy’s role becomes indispensable when an individual can’t make decisions independently. For instance, a Court-sanctioned deputy could be granted access to the person’s bank account to manage financial commitments.
A deputy is not just anyone. In the Singaporean legal framework, a deputy is appointed to make welfare, healthcare, or financial decisions for a person lacking mental capacity. The person appointed could be a family member, a close friend, or even a professional.
But remember, the appointment is based on stringent qualifications to ensure the person’s best interests remain the focal point.
Responsibilities Of A Deputy
A deputy wears many hats. As a deputy, you must adhere strictly to Court directives outlining your responsibilities and refrain from any form of disposal of the person’s property.
Deputies are also responsible for doing the following on behalf of another person (“P”):
- Decision-Making: Especially for deputies addressing special needs in Singapore, they’re expected to make choices that resonate with the individual’s best interests. They also ensure decisions made or actions taken fall within the jurisdiction granted by the Court.
- Financial Oversight: This involves managing monies, assets, and even investments.
- Personal Welfare: A deputy oversees P’s personal welfare, including personal well-being, ensuring a comfortable living environment.
- Healthcare Decisions: From medical treatments to daily care, a deputy remains actively involved.
- Submit Annual Reports: Create a report you will submit to the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s Office of Public Guardian detailing the decisions made for ‘P’ and the use of ‘P’s assets and funds for their welfare.
2 Ways To File A Deputyship Application
Understanding the intricacies of filing a deputyship application can seem daunting. Simplifying the process, there are two primary pathways: the simplified process and the standard process. Let’s break them down for clearer comprehension:
1. Simplified Deputyship Application
Simplified deputyship is an expedited route tailored for specific, straightforward cases. Below you’ll also learn how long it takes to apply, how much a simplified deputyship in Singapore costs and how to apply.
When does it apply?
If you aim to:
- Access up to $80,000 from the patient’s funds.
- Obtain other common orders, like consenting to medical treatments or deciding on care services for the patient.
For a comprehensive understanding, refer to the full list of orders here.
Applications via the simplified process typically conclude within 4 to 6 weeks. However, this might extend if submissions are incomplete or the case presents complexities.
Estimated Deputyship Fees:
The application fee is estimated at $40, excluding the cost of the medical report.
How to Apply:
Applications are facilitated through the Integrated Family Application Management System (iFAMS). For a step-by-step guide, refer to this guide on how to apply for a simplified deputyship.
2. Standard Deputyship Application
Standard deputyship is a detailed procedure suitable for more complex situations or when objections arise. Below you’ll also learn how long it takes to apply, how much standard deputyship in Singapore costs and how to apply.
When does it apply?
You’ll need to consider this route if:
- There are objections to your application.
- The orders you’re seeking don’t align with the parameters of the simplified process.
Expect the standard process to span 3 to 4 months. Again, the timeline could stretch if submissions aren’t thorough or complexities arise.
Estimated Deputyship Fees:
The fees can vary from $300 to $1000, depending on the number of documents you’re filing.
How to Apply:
Should you require further guidance with the application process, we invite you to book a free consultation with one of our lawyers at Singapore Family Lawyer for expert legal advice tailored to your unique situation.
When To Attend Court For Deputyship
Should someone raise objections to your application, or if there are discrepancies within it, the Court might request your presence at a case conference or hearing.
Note: The frequency of required Court appearances varies according to the intricacies of your case. As these sessions are typically scheduled on weekdays, parties may have to consider taking time off from their employment commitments to be present.
How To Object To A Deputyship Application
If you believe a deputyship isn’t in the person’s best interest, or there are better alternatives, the Courts provide mechanisms for objections. After all, it’s about ensuring the individual’s well-being.
If you find yourself questioning or objecting to a deputyship application, here’s what you need to know:
1. As The Patient Alleged To Lack Mental Capacity
Should you believe you possess the mental capacity and deem a deputy unnecessary, it’s crucial to communicate this to the applicant, urging them to retract their deputyship application.
If the applicant remains steadfast in their decision, you’ll need to make an official request to be included as a party in the case. This involves filing a Summons (Form 4 of the Family Justice Courts Practice Directions) via the eLitigation, which must be taken within 21 days afterreceiving the Originating Summons. Subsequently, an affidavit, accompanied by a medical report affirming your mental capacity, must be filed.
Attending the case hearing is mandatory, putting forth your points to the Court. Weighing the complexities, especially given the situation it might be prudent to consult a lawyer. Their expertise can offer clarity, particularly in presenting legal arguments.
2. As A Defendant
As a named defendant, if you desire to challenge the application, you must submit an affidavit outline your reasons via eLitigation. This, too, falls within a 21-day window from the receipt of the Originating Summons. Attending the case hearing is important, enabling you to present your arguments.
3. As A Relevant Person
If you’re closely associated with the patient and wish to contest a deputyship application, the procedure requires you to request inclusion as a party in the case. This involves filing a Summons (Form 4 of the Family Justice Courts Practice Directions) through the eLitigation within the stipulated 21 days from receiving the Originating Summons.
Along with this, an affidavit highlighting your interest and your objections to the application is necessary. You must be present at the case hearing to relay your arguments.
Conclusion About Deputyship In Singapore
This article has highlighted the intricacies of deputyship, its costs, processes, the roles and responsibilities of a deputy, and the various nuances that come into play.
However, when navigating such a complex legal landscape, guidance is invaluable. At Singapore Family Lawyer, a dedicated team of experienced lawyers is ready to provide legal advice on your specific situation.
Every case is unique, and having professional advice can make a significant difference. Book a free consultation with us today.
Frequently Asked Questions About Deputyship In Singapore
What Is The Difference Between LPA And Deputyship In Singapore?
An LPA, or Lasting Power of Attorney, is a legal document where someone voluntarily appoints one or more persons to make decisions for them should they lose mental capacity.
Deputyship, on the other hand, is a Court-appointed authority given when there’s no existing LPA, and someone lacks mental capacity to make their own decisions.
What Does The Court Consider In Appointing A Deputy?
The Court prioritises the welfare and best interests of the person lacking mental capacity. Factors include the suitability of the applicant, the wishes of the person lacking capacity, and the complexity of the decisions to be made.
What Are The Types Of Deputies In Singapore?
In Singapore, there are primarily two types of deputies: personal welfare deputies, who make decisions about day-to-day care and medical treatment, and property & affairs deputies, who manage financial matters and property for the person lacking mental capacity.
Can There Be More Than One Deputy Appointed?
Yes, the Court can appoint more than one deputy. These deputies can be directed to act jointly, separately, or jointly in some matters and separately in others, depending on the Court’s order.