There are Things to Know Before Making a Will Legal in Singapore
The misconception that a will is only needed by wealthy people is not true. It is actually an important part of life because it is the easiest way to pass down a property and estate to whomever they choose. In addition, not a lot of people do not know how to write a will or, more importantly, what it is about. Sometimes, writing a will involves a couple of formalities which have to be fulfilled so it becomes valid. There are certain factors a person must remember when making a will legal in Singapore.
Formalities to Write a Will
- The will should be accomplished in writing
- The age of the testator should be 21 years old and above
- The signature of the testator must be affixed at the end
- When the testator is signing a will, he or she must have at least 2 witnesses, who are also going to sign it in that moment
- The beneficiaries or their spouses are the 2 main witnesses when the testator is signing the will
In case the testator is unable to sign the will, he or she may let another person to sign the will but it should be in their presence. Moreover, witnesses aside from the 2 main ones could also be the beneficiaries.
What Should be in the Will
- A list of the testator’s important assets. A joint bank account or a real estate property that is shared does not have to be part of the will
- A list of liabilities like debts. The testator should write what he or she wants to be done for the debt to be paid for before balance assets will be passed on.
- The name(s) of the beneficiary(s) who will receive the assets mentioned in the will
- Guardians of the minor beneficiaries
- How much should each beneficiary receive
- The one who was appointed as executor of the will. The will’s beneficiary can also be appointed executor
- The lawyer(s), will specialist or advisor(s) who are involved in the will process
- The clause of revocation to nullify a will (if any) that was previously prepared
- A clause about the residuary on the distribution of remaining assets according to the wishes of the testator. This could be for situations like when the beneficiary passes before the testator. The assets that were originally for him or her becomes a remaining asset
A will may be revoked because of marriage, there is a new one, a revocation was written, or if the will is destroyed. It is best to review the will you’ve written every couple of years to make sure it stays updated and relevant. Actually, your will must have your current intentions with regards to the distribution and administration of the assets you accumulated.
The CPF Savings are Not Part of the Will
A person’s CPF savings cannot be part of their will. In addition, they are also not part of any estate that the testator owns and it is protected from any claims by a credit on any existing debts. It is necessary to write a CPF nomination if you want your CPF to be allocated according to what you stated. If there is no CPF nomination written, your savings from the CPF will be moved to the Public Trustee’s Office (PTO) so it can be distributed. This will be done according to Intestate Succession Act or it could also be the Inheritance Certificate if you are a Muslim. The PTO will charge necessary administration fees for distributing your CPF savings to family members.
A CPF nomination gives CPF members the choice to say who will their CPF savings go to. Moreover, the amount each nominee is going to receive, once they pass.
No Need for a Lawyer to Draft Your Will
It is not mandatory to have a lawyer in writing your will. Although, hiring legal experts in Singapore is necessary if the requirements on who you want to inherit your assets to go to are quite complex. You can also avail of will-writing services from non-lawyers. However, these services do not always have a lower cost than getting a lawyer’s help. With the competition in the legal market today, you can get a lawyer to help write your will for about the same cost.
After the Will Has Been Executed
You should refrain from telling other about what your will contains since it is very private. Notwithstanding, make sure that your executor knows about the existence of your will. Once it has been executed, you can give a copy to your lawyer of your legal will to have a copy kept for you.
It is also necessary for you to give information about the will information to the Wills Registry because they give assistance with probation access. Depositing information about the will to the Wills Registry is executed online and needs your SingPass log in details. The information that the Wills Registry may include:
- The details of who is making the will
- Date of the will
- The details about the person who drew the will
- Information about where they held the will
How is the Will Executed?
The executor executes the will. Although, the executor has the right to refuse to do it. Therefore, when you are drafting a will, you should consult whomever you want to appoint as the executor before obtaining their consent.
An executor may be someone or a professional who specializes in wills. The executor needs to apply for probate and the one who will administer the estate. The executor will be the one to settle the debts and distribute assets of the deceased to beneficiaries based on what is on the will.
A will may be consented by the ones who question its validity, and the court may wholly declare it or some of it as invalid. Therefore, it is important to make sure it follows the Wills Act provisions.
Cost of Writing a Will in Singapore
If you are going to engage with a writing company or a lawyer to help you prepare a will, the cost is going to be approximately $200.00 to $400.00. If the will has complexities, then the cost would be at least $500.00. How much it costs to draft a will is mostly a function of the amount of time that gets consumed when preparing the complexities of your will. The cost is determined by how much time it takes to draft your will. This means that the longer the time necessary, the higher the price. For instance, if you want a specific person to get the asset who lives in a different country, or where you want your estate to go. Therefore, it requires more preparation time and will cost more.
There is an additional charge of $50.00
Hiring an Attorney
Normally, people think that hiring a lawyer to draft your will is more expensive, but that is a misconception. For an estate, the basic cost is going to be between $100 to $150 for a lawyer to complete. It is about the same cost as the pre-made form which includes consultation and the final review of your will. If the circumstances of your assets are more complex, the service fee will be higher. You might pay up to $5,000 if your estate has significant assets. Keep in mind that you are not paying for the will because it also comes with the advantages of having an expert who is qualified.
Advantages of Registering Your Will
People do not always register their will but if they do, there are certain benefits to doing so:
- During registration, there is a copy that will remain at the office of registry
- In case the original was tampered upon, the copy can serve as a comparison to determine the more genuine will.
- If the original will gets destroyed, the office of registry has a certified copy which you can obtain
- If the will executed is based regarding the leasehold property before the probate has been obtained, it will be easy to remove a name or identify a mutation
- In case the testator is suffering from an illness and cannot go to the registry office, the registrar can visit his residence. This is very convenient for the testator because they do not have to leave home.
In Case the Will Cannot be Located
If your will is registered, your loved ones can coordinate with the Wills Registry which is being maintained and lets testators to deposit their will. The information needed to find the will should include:
- When was the will executed
- Who drew up the will
- Where it was held
The Wills Registry stores this information and keeps it in their files for 120 years from the testator’s birth. Although, they do not keep the originals or copies of it.
If your dead relative deposited information about his will with the Wills Registry, this information can be retrieved at the Public Trustee Office. The cost of the service is $10.00.
Contact the Lawyer Who Drafted the Will
If a lawyer executes the will, they may need to keep a copy. This ensures assurance to the relatives of the will maker.
In case the lawyer who drew the will is unidentified:
- There might be information found at the Wills Registry
- As an alternative, the Law Gazette will put a notice so they can contact the lawyer who was involved in drawing up the will. It may cost $214.00 to have a notice placed. The lawyer may contact the person upon seeing the notice.
The lawyer is only going to disclose the contents of the will to the executors until the court grants probate. This is if the consent of the executors to disclose the will’s contents before probate is granted.
If You Want to Change Your Will
There are different circumstances if you might think of changing some things in your will. The non-exhaustive examples are:
- There are new of the family like a child is born or a grandchild
- A beneficiary or an executor dies
- When you have acquired a new property or business
- If someone changed their religion or even personal beliefs
- In case someone gets a divorce
Unlike the way wills become invalidated when you get married, divorce is not going to cause the will to be revoked automatically. To make your current status quo effective, you might consider making changes to the will after divorce.
Changing Your Will
You can do a codicil to change some things in your will. The codicil is another document that serves as an attachment to the original will, which contains the changes you’ve made in the will. Although, if the changes do not amend to the Singapore law, your will might become invalid or face challenges. The risk with a codicil is it might get lost together with the original will.
Getting Rid of the Original Will and Making a New One
In case there are substantial and sudden changes that require adjustments to the will, it is normally better to just draft a new one. It is going to provide clarity when it comes to your property’s distribution, instead of those who will read your will having to use several documents. There is a high chance of confusion as to what you want to happen; thus, it could take time.
If there is a new will, the old one should be destroyed by shredding or tearing it up to avoid any confusion. In addition, it is advisable that you tell the executors or your family members where the current one is.
You should not make any changes to the will yourself. This is even if there’s a chance that you might make changes by adding or subtracting something. This could make the entire will invalid. Moreover, the vocabulary you used upon the drafting of the codicil may not accurately reflect what you want to say.
There is a lot to know when making a will legal in Singapore even if it may sound like a long process. The benefits are greater after you are able to execute it.