Writing a will is one way an adult can legally ensure their loved ones are taken care off if they happen to pass away unexpectedly. There is no specific time or age requirement to write a will so whether you’re a retiree, a single parent or even unmarried, you’ll be able to allocate your assets to family members who may need financial support or even appoint a legal guardian to continue caring for your child.
What is a Will?
Writing a will allows you to ensure your assets end up with the people you choose. A will is a legal document indicating your wishes regarding the distribution of your estate, and everything you own, as well as appointing care for your children, after your death.
In Singapore, the laws relating to wills can be found in the Wills Act 1838. If a person were to die without writing a will, then according to the Intestate Succession Act 1967, the person’s assets will only be distributed evenly among the deceased spouse and children (if married), and not necessarily to other specific family members, including parents or siblings, even if they may be facing financial hardships.
The main requirements to make a Will
For your will to be valid in Singapore, you will need to ensure:
- You are at least 21 years old;
- The will is committed to writing;
- You must sign at the foot of the will, with 2 or more witnesses who must also sign the will in your presence;
- The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the will;
- Your spouse cannot be a witness
If you are unable to sign at the foot of the will, you may appoint another person to sign it on your behalf, but you will need to be present too.
What needs to be included in the Will
You’re required to list all of your assets and liabilities in the will. This means all the assets that you own, and which are registered in your name. The same applies for all your debts (if any) and how you want them to be paid off, before your assets can be distributed to your chosen beneficiaries. These assets include HDB flats, private apartments, plots of land or buildings, as well as investments such as shares, unit trusts and bank accounts and physical items such as furniture and ornaments, and many others. You should consult a lawyer if you’re looking for clarity in such matters.
You will need to name the executors to carry out your will, as well as your advisors such as your lawyers and accountants involved in the process. If you are writing a new will to replace an older one, you will need to include a revocation clause to revoke the previous will.
With a will, you can allocate specific amounts and percentages to your beneficiaries. If your beneficiary is too young, you can allocate them to a guardian. You are also allowed to include reserve beneficiaries in case your chosen one dies at the same time as you.
What About CPF Savings?
If you wish to transfer your CPF savings to another person after your death, you can only do so by making a CPF nomination. Otherwise, the amount will be transferred to the Public Trustee’s Office.
Reasons to write a Will
Besides appointing a trusted person to manage your affairs, a will also allows you to name a testamentary guardian to care for your children on your behalf, if they are still minors, after your death. In a simultaneous death situation, involving both you and your spouse, the testamentary guardian will be able to have custody of your children. Otherwise, anyone can apply to the court for their custody. If there are no applications for guardianship, the children will be placed in a home under the care of the Ministry of Family and Social Development (MSF).
Another reason for writing a will is to ease your spouse’s financial burden by specifying that you wish to sell a certain asset you own, to repay a loan or mortgage, after your death. If you are looking for more information regarding your situation, it’s best to speak to a lawyer who can guide you through the process.
Engaging a Lawyer
Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu of Amarjit Sidhu Law Corporation has represented numerous clients in a wide variety of matters over the years from traffic offences, high-profile criminal cases – to family and divorce matters. With a vast knowledge of Singapore’s laws and a wealth of experience, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation. For more information, feel free to contact us for a consultation.