Categories
Articles

Guide to Lasting Power of Attorney

GUIDE TO LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that appoints someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf if you can no longer make them yourself. Getting legal advice from a lawyer when creating your LPA is vital, as some specific forms and procedures must be followed. Our team has years of experience dealing with the Office of Public Guardian, so we can guide you through the process and ensure your LPA is correctly created and registered.

1.  Who Are The People Most Affected?

Around 10% of the Singapore population is at or above retirement age. Many of them are fit, healthy and capable of looking after themselves. But illness and accident can strike anyone, anytime, when least expected.

 

2.  How Can A LPA Help Me?

Many people plan for the future by saving, investing, and buying insurance. They want to be prepared for any possible scenario. Few people think about the possibility of losing their mental capacity which is a real challenge to our physical and emotional well-being. Planning for this event can undoubtedly help reduce stress for our family members.

A LPA helps you appoint people you trust to act on your behalf if you should lose mental capacity. A LPA can give you peace of mind, knowing that your wishes will be carried out even if you cannot communicate them when you are mentally incapacitated.

 

3.  What Is the Difference Between A LPA And A Power of Attorney?

A LPA is only effective when you lose your mental capacity.

A Power of Attorney is only effective when you still have your mental capacity and the scope of powers of your Attorney to act within the powers given by you. If you lose your mental capacity, the powers granted under the Power of Attorney shall be invalid or ineffective.

 

4.  What Could Happen If I Don’t Make A LPA?

Losing one’s mental capacity is not just for the elderly; younger people may become incapacitated through accident or illness. When someone suffers a loss of mental capacity, they can no longer make decisions for themselves and need someone else to do so. This can be difficult for both the individual and their loved ones.

Without a LPA, your family will have to apply to the court to get access and take control of your assets and finances. Applying to the court can be expensive and time-consuming, and there is no guarantee that the court will grant authority to your family members. Making a LPA ensures that your wishes are carried out quickly and efficiently if you become incapacitated.

 

5.  When Does A LPA Take Effect?

A LPA will only take effect if you lose mental capacity and a registered medical practitioner has verified your condition.

 

6.  How Do I Make A LPA?

To make a LPA, there are 2 forms which you can use.

 

LPA Form 1 – Standard Form

The standard form is the most commonly used, allowing the Donor to grant general powers to the Donee with some basic restrictions. 98% of Singapore Citizens who have made a LPA used the LPA Form 1.

The 2 general powers granted in LPA Form 1 are:-

(a)  the Personal and Welfare “power,” deals with matters that involve the person’s well-being. The decisions about the person’s health, where they should be cared for and how. It also involves the medical decisions that may have to be made. These decisions could even have life or death implications.

(b)  the Property and Affairs “power,” deals with matters that involve a person’s belongings and financial situation. It can be pretty mundane, like paying bills, checking that their bank account is in order, looking after investments, etc.

 

LPA Form 2 – Customised Form

The comprehensive form is more complex, allowing the Donor to grant specific powers to the Donee. It also includes more detailed restrictions on the use of the power. Only 2% of Singapore Citizens who have made a LPA used the LPA Form 2.

 

6.  Whom Can I Appoint As My Attorney?

You may appoint anyone you trust to make decisions on your behalf, in your best interests, as your Attorney as long as (1) they are over 21 years old; (2) not bankrupt, and (3) are willing to take on the role as your Attorney, which is a serious responsibility.

ISSUES TO CONSIDER

1.  Whom do you wish to be your Attorney?

2.  Do you want to appoint more than 1 Attorney?

3.  If your Attorney cannot act, do you want to appoint a replacement Attorney?

4.  If you have more than 1 Attorney, do you want them to make joint decisions (i.e. cannot act separately), or can they make decisions separately?

Speak to us over video consultation via Lawyer Anywhere for assistance with your LPA. We can walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have.

Categories
Articles

Stamp Duty for Property Transactions Explained

STAMP DUTY FOR PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS EXPLAINED

Whenever there is a change of ownership of residential property in Singapore, the transaction must be taxed. The taxes that must be paid are as follows: (1) a Buyer’s Stamp Duty (BSD); and (2) Additional Buyer’s Stamp Duty, if applicable (ABSD).

What is BSD & How Much Is It?

BSD must be paid when transferring or buying Singapore real estate. BSD is based on the purchase price or market value (the higher amount).

BSD Rates (for transactions after 20 Feb 2018)

Purchase Price or Market Value of Property

BSD for Residential Property

First $180,000

1%

Next $180,000

2%

Next $640,000

3%

Remaining amount (above S$ 1 million)

4%

As you can see, the BSD is taxed at a different rate depending on how much the home cost to buy or how much it is worth on the market. So, people who can afford more expensive homes will pay a higher BSD, while people who buy cheaper houses will pay less.

Illustration

  • If we purchase a home worth $500,000, the BSD payable is $9,600. 
  • If we purchase a home worth $2 million, the BSD payable is $64,600.

What Is ABSD & How Much Is It?

ABSD was part of a series of cooling measures implemented by the Monetary Authority of Singapore to limit speculative demand for residential properties in Singapore.

Since its introduction, the ABSD has undergone multiple revisions, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore has maintained that there are no intentions to relax property cooling measures.  The latest revisions were announced on 8 May 2022.

The buyer’s profile at the time of the purchase of the residential property will determine whether ABSD is payable, and if so, the amount of ABSD that must be paid.

ABSD must be paid in addition to the existing BSD by applicable buyers.

ABSD Rates (for transactions after 9 May 2022)

Buyer ProfileABSD Rate 
SC–1st residential propertyN.A.
SC–2nd residential property17%
SC–3rd & subsequent residential property25%
SPRs–1st residential property5%
SPRs–2nd residential property25%
SPRs–3rd & subsequent residential property30%
Foreigners–any residential property30%
Entities buying any residential property35%

While the BSD is based on a percentage of the property’s selling price, the ABSD is fixed. The amount we must pay varies according to our nationality (whether we are Singaporeans, PRs, or foreigners) and the number of properties we own, as shown in the table.

Singaporeans must pay an ABSD of 17% when buying a second residential property.

Illustration

If we want to buy a second home that costs $2 million, we must pay:

BSD + ABSD = $64,600 + $340,000 = $404,600

Count of Residential Properties Owned

 

(A) Count from the Date of the Sale and Purchase Agreement

If the Option to Purchase has been exercised, it should be counted as one of the buyer’s properties as of the day he exercised the Option, even if the property has not yet been legally transferred to him.

This includes purchasing a unit from the developer before its completion if the Sale and Purchase Agreement has been executed.

Similarly, the property should not be regarded as one of the buyer’s properties if the new buyer has exercised his Option to Purchase.

 

(B) Partial / Joint Ownership

Ownership of any interest in a property is counted as part of a buyer’s total property holdings.

Illustration

John jointly owns a property with his wife – Count 1
John owns a property with his brother, percentage ownership 30% – 70% – Count 2
The number of properties owned by John is 2.

 

(C) Multiple Properties in a Single Transaction

Many residential properties can be purchased under one contract. However, each residential property will be counted as its own.

 

(D) HDB Shop with Living Quarters

HDB shops with living quarters or shophouses with residential use will be included as a residential property count.

 

(E) Residential Properties Not in Singapore

All residential properties not located in Singapore will not be included in the count of residential properties owned.

When Must BSD & ABSD Be Paid?

If the BSD applies to you, the ABSD must be paid within 14 days from the exercise of the Option to Purchase or the date the Sale & Purchase Agreement is signed.

What About Inherited Properties?

IRAS has clarified that BSD and ABSD are not payable on properties acquired by inheritance. However, such properties are included in the property count if further residential property purchases are made.

We offer video consultation via Lawyer Anywhere so that you can get the help you need. We can walk you through the process and answer any questions you may have. Contact us today to get started!

Categories
True Files

From Brink of Bankruptcy

FROM THE BRINK OF BANKRUPTCY … AN UNEXPECTED TURN AROUND

THE BACKGROUND

The client runs a small family business importing and exporting goods from the neighbouring ASEAN countries and has been doing it for 35 years. Being old school, he runs his business based on relationships and personal ties. He has used the same bank for all his financial needs over the last 45 years. Conservative in his borrowing, he has one commercial loan secured by a mortgage over his shop house; and a renovation loan (surprisingly, this was in the form of an overdraft facility) secured by his home.

 

THE PROBLEM

During the economic slowdown, his business took a hit, and cash flow became a problem. The client started to miss loan repayment instalments which amounted to $15,000 per month, paying them intermittently whenever he could. Each month he struggled to raise the funds required to pay the loan instalments which were overdue. Snowballing default interest became an insurmountable burden, overshadowing even his anxiety over his failing business.

 

WHY HE CAME TO SEE US

By the time he came to see us, he had received a letter of demand from his bank. They had threatened to foreclose on both loans. In addition, the bank’s employee who had served as his relationship manager over the last twenty years had recently left the bank. The new relationship manager taking over his account was not sympathetic – “new brooms sweeps client,” as the saying goes – the new manager’s prevailing concern was to reduce the bank’s exposure in a recession.

Having been backed into a corner and feeling overwhelmed, the client came to see us, not expecting any more in terms of legal services than to help him “buy” some time with the bank. Yet, at the same time, he was desperately looking for ways to raise the funds to stave off the repossession of his family home.

 

WHAT WE ACHIEVED

A quick investigation of our client’s borrowing history and current property valuations showed that –

  1. his residential property is valued at $2.3 million, and his shop house at $1.1 million (current valuations).
  2. that the client’s total debt to the bank is $900k, a mere fraction of the total worth of the mortgaged properties – our client was over-securitized!

We called our bankers, and within a few days, they offered to refinance his loan by giving him a NEW term loan secured by his residential property only.

As residential term loans bear much lower interest rates than an overdraft loan, the client’s liability to his new bankers was now reduced to a manageable $2,500 per month.

Our client was so relieved and heartened by his change of status that he could now focus his attention on his business. To help him ride out the recession, he was able to sub-let his shophouse for $7,000 per month.

As a result, from the brink of a bankruptcy action, our client now enjoys a fixed monthly income of $4,500!

Refinancing will help you reduce your monthly repayments and improve your quality of life. Speak to us over video consultation via Lawyer Anywhere for advice on refinancing your housing loan today!

Susan Tan

Senior Legal Executive

Qualifications:

With more than 10 years of experience in the financial industry, Susan Tan, who joined us from one of the leading corporate and investment banks in Singapore, provides invaluable expertise and knowledge in corporate secretarial.

She is conversant and familiar with the local regulations and requirements for business entities in Singapore.

As a member of our team, Susan is responsible for maintaining and updating the Company’s statutory registers and records, filing all necessary documents and forms with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA), Ad-hoc assignments such as allotment and transfer of shares, amendment of Company’s Constitution and submission of Annual Return to ACRA.

Apart from corporate secretarial work, Susan has considerable experience and expertise in compliance advisory matters, making her a valuable member of our firm.