Need legal advice but not sure where to start? Experienced Singapore-based lawyer SHIRLEY P LOURDES touches on some common questions around complex legal procedures.

Shirley P Lourdes is a Senior Director at Attorneys Inc. LLCwith over 30 years of experience practicing law. She specialises in wills, drafting and vetting contracts, residential and commercial sales, adoption, power of attorney, deed poll changes, deputyship and other legal matters. What about changing a name by deed poll – what are some complications a lawyer can help with here? A lawyer should ascertain why their client wishes to do a deed poll and advise on the administrative issues involved in executing one. They may also highlight the possible social or emotional issues that the client’s friends or family may experience because of that name change. With the advent of technology, most documents are now computer-generated and can be filed via online services to courts and government departments, speeding up the process. Court hearings can also be done online, saving time and costs; even meetings with clients or fellow lawyers can be held online, too, enabling easier scheduling. I’ve also seen court procedures evolve over time; they’re being continually simplified, making them cheaper and more efficient for clients. Another change is that clients today are more frequently choosing alternate means of dispute resolution such as mediation and arbitration over litigation in court. What do you like to do when you’re not working? I enjoy cooking, in particular trying out new recipes from different cuisines. I also garden; I grow most of the herbs that I use in the kitchen. Has much has changed in the practice of law in Singapore from when you started to now?

What advice do you have for someone who’s never hired a lawyer before? You should aim to hire a lawyer who is experienced and who has a good grounding in the particular field of law you need advice on. They should also be someone you feel you can trust and build a relationship with. You may find that a lawyer in a boutique or smaller law firm is able to have more personal time with you.

What are some mistakes people make when putting together a will? Some people don’t fully understand the importance of planning for their family’s future and the protection of their assets; or they don’t think about who they would want as their beneficiaries and which of their assets (or the percentage of these) they would want to grant to each beneficiary. Failing to select a reliable and trustworthy trustee to manage their assets after their death is another mistake that’s easily made. This is particularly important if there are beneficiaries who areminors. How do you guide clients on choosing who receives power of attorney? I would get to know them and their needs first before assisting them to identify the person they most trust to act in their best interest. In what scenarios would someone hire a notary public? A notary public is required to either witness the signing of a document or certify a document as true when the signed document or copy is for use overseas. Notarising is also relevant for some documents used locally.

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