This article was written in collaboration with MoneyOwl. All views expressed in this article are the independent opinion of DollarsAndSense.sg
With people in Singapore becoming more affluent, the need for more Singaporeans to have a will is becoming increasingly important. A will ensures that the assets they possess will be handled down smoothly to their beneficiaries.
Agreeing that you need to have your own will is a good start but making sure that you get this done correctly is more essential.
In recent years, preparing our own will has become a lot easier with the help of advisory platforms such as MoneyOwl. These platforms provide us with 1) the convenience of being able to do it on our own and 2) the support and advice needed to guide us correctly through the process.
In fact, for a limited time only, DollarsAndSense readers can prepare for themselves a simple, but legally binding will for free using the MoneyOwl will writing platform. Simply use the promo code – MOPTR1.
Before you jump right in to get your own will written, it’s important that you understand some important areas with regards to preparing a will in Singapore.
# 1 In The Absence Of A Will, The Intestate Succession Act Applies
DollarsAndSense have written plenty of articles in the past about estate planning and we feel that one of the most important things Singaporeans ought to know is what the default Intestate Succession Act is. In the absence of a valid will, the rules of the Intestate Succession Act will apply.
In the absence of a (valid) will, the state will decide how your assets will be distributed and they will be following the Interstate Succession Act.
By having a will, you get to decide on how you want your assets to be distributed. However, if the Intestate Succession Act is already aligned with what you want, a separate will may not always be necessary.
For example, if you and your spouse have no children and both sets of parents have already passed on, the default intestate succession act will be for your assets to be left to the surviving spouse, which could already be what you intend to do.
Do note however that there are still some additional benefits to having a will even if your wishes are already aligned with the Interstate Succession Act. A will makes the probate process quicker. A will also allows you to choose your own executors and guardians, which can be particularly important for parents who have young children.
# 2 Legal Requirements For Preparing A Valid Will
While not having a will may not be an ideal situation, having an invalid will is also an equally bad outcome. Hence, you want to make sure that the will you have prepared is going to be valid. For this, we need to understand the legal requirements first.
Besides the legal requirements stated above (e.g. at least 21 years old, of sound mind), you should also take note of the other legal requirements:
- You need to have at least two witnesses. Your two witnesses must sign on the will in your presence.
- Your two witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the will, or spouses of your beneficiaries.
- Muslims in Singapore do not follow the Intestate Succession Act.
If you do not adhere to any of the requirements, the will you have prepared could be considered invalid.
# 3 Keep A Schedule Of Your Assets
A schedule of asset is an important document which should be appended to your will. It states all the assets that you own such as the properties, bank accounts, investments and overseas assets which are under your name.
A schedule of assets helps because there is no point in having a will which distributes your assets if the executor of your will cannot locate all the assets that you own.
This is a very real problem currently existing in Singapore. In fact, back in 2016, the Life Insurance Association (LIA) Singapore had 8,185 insurance policies which were due for payouts, but remain unclaimed. The Singapore Exchange (SGX) also reported back in 2013 that there was $68.3 million in unclaimed dividends.
The bottom line here is that a schedule of assets is an important document to accompany your will. So do not forget to prepare it while you are concurrently preparing your will.
If you find it too troublesome having to pen down where all your assets are, imagine the challenges that the executor of your will is going to have when the time comes.
# 4 Notifying Your Beneficiaries
As mentioned above, your beneficiaries cannot be one of the two witnesses that you get to sign off on your will. In fact, legally speaking, there is no requirement at all for you to let them in on the details of your will, or even notify them in the first place.
Nevertheless, there are reasons to let them in on some of the details of your will. For example, in an article contributed to us by Loo Cheng Chuan, who is a father of three and founder of the 1M65 movement, he shared the reasons why he briefed his children on the will written by him and his wife. He explained to them the allocation that was assigned to each child and took the time to answer any questions that they may have.
# 5 What’s NOT Covered Under Your Will
It’s important to also know what cannot be covered under your will. In Singapore, there are three main things to take note of.
CPF Accounts: If you don’t already know, the balance in your CPF accounts cannot be included in your will. These include your CPF savings, unused CPF LIFE premiums as well as any discounted SingTel shares that you may own.
Property Under Joint Tenancy: If you own a property under joint tenancy, the right of survivorship applies. What this means is that upon your demise, ownership of the flat would automatically be passed on to your remaining owner, or co-owners.
Joint Savings Accounts: Similar to property ownership under joint tenancy, the right of survivorship applies for assets which are jointly owned, such as a joint savings account.
Knowing what cannot be covered under your will is important because the last thing you want to be doing is to allocate to your beneficiaries assets that were not legally yours to distribute in the first place.
The Complexity Of Your Will
Writing a will can be a simple affair, particularly if you do not have any overseas assets, businesses that you own or complex wishes on how your assets should be distributed. If you do, you may wish to seek in-depth legal advice from a specialised consultant. This will ensure that your intentions on how to distribute your estate are correctly represented in the will that you prepare.
For simple requirements, an online will writing service such as what’s being offered by MoneyOwl could suffice.
You can prepare your will with MoneyOwl will writing platform for free for a limited time. Use the DollarsAndSense promo code – MOPTR1.