Health + Wellness

Preparing And Making A Will In Singapore

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The Active Age consolidates some of the basic and frequently asked questions about will making in Singapore.

As sombre a topic death can be, preparing and making a will is one of the most important things you can do for their family as it is necessary  to protect the interests of your loved ones after you have moved on. Importantly, the will helps ensure that your wishes with regards to your assets are observed and carried out after your death.

We went about curating and consolidating some frequently asked questions about the preparation of a will.

What Is A Will?

A person makes a will to provide for the administration and distribution of what he or she owns (‘the estate’) among the beneficiaries after death. This person is called ‘the testator’.

What can I include in the Will?

  • A list of all of your assets. (For example, this can be property, car, shares, money in a bank account, jewellery, etc.)
  • A list of all your liabilities. You must state how you want your debts to be paid off before your assets are distributed to the beneficiaries.
  • The ‘beneficiaries’ (who to give the assets to) and ‘guardians’ (if the beneficiaries are too young), and how much each person receives.
  • The ‘executor’ who carries out your will. A beneficiary can also be an executor.
  • The advisors. (lawyers, accountants, etc)
  • The ‘trustee’. (A person who has the power to hold the estate of the deceased on his or her death)
  • A revocation clause to revoke any and all previous wills.
  • A residuary clause that distributes any remainder of your estate according to your wishes. For example, if a beneficiary dies before you, the asset bequeathed to him becomes the remainder.

What Types Of Assets Cannot Be Included In The Will?

  • Money in a jointly owned bank account.
  • Share of the property that is held in joint tenancy.
  • Money held in your Central Provident Fund (CPF).
  • Insurance monies meant or held for a nominated beneficiary.

What Do I Do About My CPF Savings With Regards To It Not Being Eligible As Part Of My Will?

CPF savings are shared with the Public Trustee for distribution to your family, following intestacy laws or inheritance certificate (for Muslims) in Singapore.

Individuals can nominate others to receive the CPF savings distributed according to their wishes. The CPF website has more information and FAQs about this process. The nomination form can be completed at CPF Service Centres in the presence of customer service executives who can also serve as witnesses.

Do You Need A Lawyer Or Any Other Person In Writing Your Will?

No. As long as you are 21-years-old and above and of sound mind, making a will is something that you can do yourself without any external help. However, there is a risk that the will might be ineffective or invalid, perhaps due to the manner in which you state your objectives and intentions, resulting in unnecessary inconveniences at the expense of your beneficiaries. But, it is up to you to decide whether to consult an external party such as a lawyer for advice and help in drafting a will.

How about witnesses?

This is one of the more important steps of the process. The signing (not the preparation) of the will must be witnessed by two people at the same time. These witnesses cannot be beneficiaries in your will and they cannot be the spouse of the beneficiaries.

What Should I Do After Preparing My Will?

The first thing to do is inform your family and executors that you have a will and where it is being kept. This can be in a safe place at home, a bank deposit box or even with your lawyers.

You can also register with the Wills Registry to submit information about the will. This does not cover the contents of the will but lodges the existence of a will with a confidential registry. From 1 March 2014, there is a S$50 fee. The Will Registry is part of the Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office of Singapore.

What Will Happen To My Current Will If I Get Married Or Remarry?

Your will will be cancelled or nullified upon marriage or remarriage.

There are cases whereby a will can be prepared in contemplation of marriage and you might want to seek legal advice prior to your involvement in such a situation.

How do I revoke or cancel my current Will?

A will can be revoked by a new will, a written revocation, or by destroying the old will.

When should I review my Will?

You should review your will if any of the following happens:

  • If you change your name or anyone mentioned in the will changes his or her name.
  • If an executor or trustee dies or becomes incapable of discharging his or her duties owing to ill-health.
  • If a beneficiary dies.
  • If you subsequently sell or part with any property mentioned in the will.
  • If there is any significant change in circumstances, for example, when you acquire property or assets which have not been mentioned in your will.

How Do I Go About Changing My Will?

You can consider making a new will, thereby revoking the old one or by adding on information (called a supplementary will or a ‘Codicil’).

What Happens When I Pass On? How Will My Estate Be Administered By The Will?

Upon notification of your passing to your executor(s), they will have to apply to Court for a Grant of Probate. Upon issuance of the Grant, your executor(s) will be provided a copy of your will together with the grant. All properties and assets will be shared with your executor(s) to be administered and distributed according to the instructions provided in the will.

What Happens If I Do Not Have A Will Prepared And I Pass On?

Without a will, your estate will be distributed in accordance to the Intestate Succession Act. There are rules that explain the distribution to a spouse, your children, parents, siblings and even to other relatives, in the event that relations with a stronger claim are also not alive.

Without a will, there will be no executor to take care of the distribution, leaving this function to state-appointed administrators. These administrators will need to go through a longer and more complicated process to secure the equivalent documentation as the Grant of Probate to act on your estate.

Importantly, without a will, you’ll lose any influence and impact on ensuring that your assets and estate are distributed according to your wishes. Additionally, you’ll add inconvenience to the relations that remain, who’ll have to go through additional administrative layers while seeking closure.

 

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