Singaporeans who are 35 and above and still single are eligible to buy and own a HDB flat for themselves.
In recent months, we have received a question from a couple of readers asking us what will happen to the HDB flat that they own if they are single and pass on. While it appears to be a seemingly simple question, the answer to this question does bring with it some interesting scenarios.
The first thing to take note is HDB definition of what it constitutes to be a “single”.
There are two definitions.
– Individual is unmarried or divorced (35 years old and above) or
– Individual is widowed or orphaned (21 years old and above)
Most folks are familiar with the first definition as it’s the most common scenario but the second definition is the more interesting one. It basically means that a legal adult (age 21 and above) can own a HDB flat on his/her own if the individual is widowed or orphaned.
In either definition, the individual must be a Singapore Citizen. Permanent Residents who are single are not allowed to own a HDB flat.
Single Citizen Scheme Or Joint Single Scheme?
For singles looking to own a flat, there are two ways to do so.
The first is to own it on your own. This can be done under the Single Singapore Citizen Applicants.
The other way is to own it with other singles under the Joint Singles Scheme. In order to qualify for this, all co-applicants must be Singaporeans who are single and age 35 and above. There can be a total of between 2 to 4 co-applicants for a HDB flat.
But why would a single prefer owning a HDB flat with other co-owners? Here are a few possible reasons.
1) Two singles who are in a relationship may have plans to get married in the future. Hence, the HDB flat that they bought may become their matrimonial home in the future. Buying a flat together may be a better idea as opposed to buying two separate HDB flats, and needing to sell off one should they get married.
2) The two (or more) singles may want to buy a HDB flat but are unable to afford it on their own. Hence, they pool their resources to buy it together.
3) The two singles may have plans to live together over the long-term but have no plans to get married, or be unable to be (legally) married.
Ownership Structure: Joint Tenant Vs Tenancy-In-Common
If you are a single and buying a HDB flat with another single, it’s incredibly important that you take note off the ownership structure of your flat.
The first (and most common) way is through a Joint Tenancy arrangement.
Under the Joint Tenancy arrangement, the right of survivorship applies. What this means is that upon the demise of either owner, ownership of the flat would automatically be passed on to the remaining owner, or co-owners. This applies regardless of whether or not a valid will has or has not been left behind.
The second way is through a Tenancy-In-Common arrangement. Unlike Joint Tenancy where co-owners have equal share, a flat which is own under a Tenancy-In-Common will have a separate and definite share which indicates the ownership share for each owner.
Under this ownership structure, either individual, if desired, can have a will that explicitly state how his or her respective ownership should be distributed when they pass on. In the absence of a valid will, the flat ownership will be pass on in accordance to the Intestate Succession Act.
What Happens If I Pass On Without A Valid Will?
If a single who owns a HDB flat passes on, here’s what could happen, in order of sequence.
If the person co-owns the flat with other singles through a Joint Tenancy arrangement, the flat automatically belongs to the remaining co-owner, or co-owners. This applies regardless of whether or not a valid will has or has not been left behind.
If the person co-owns the flat with other singles under a tenancy-in-common arrangement, his/her home ownership proportion will be passed down in accordance to the intestate succession act.
Intestate Succession Act
The intestate succession act applies in the absence of a valid will.
Spouse and children are typically first in line to receive the inheritance, which in our case refers to the HDB flat left behind. However, if a person is single, he/she will have no spouse or children.
In such case, parents will receive ownership of the HDB flat. In the absence of any surviving parents, siblings, if any, will receive the flat. In the absence of any surviving parents or siblings, the children of the siblings (i.e. nephews or nieces) will receive the flat.
If a single was an only child, and his parents and grandparents have already pass on, any uncles or aunties would claim the HDB flat. The state will only claim the estate if it has exhaust all other means to find any blood relatives of the individual who have pass on.
What Happens If I Pass On With A Valid Will?
Things are a lot easier if a person leaves a valid will.
If the person co-owns the flat with other singles through a Joint Tenancy arrangement, the flat automatically belongs to the remaining co-owner(s). This applies regardless of whether or not a valid will has or has not been left behind.
If a single was the sole owner of a HDB flat, or own the HDB flat through a tenancy-in-common arrangement, his HDB home ownership will be passed down in accordance to his will. It’s as simple as that.
As a rule of thumb, if you are a single who owns a HDB flat, or have sizeable assets under your name, it’s strongly advice that you leave a valid will in order to ensure that your assets are passed down in the way that you wish.
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