Death is not something that we like to think about, let alone discuss with our spouses.
However, as parents, we need to think about this inevitable reality simply because we owe it to our children. If you have a will in place, you can rest assured that your children and your partner will be entitled to what is rightfully theirs.
The absence of a will can be a source of great frustration for those left behind.
In this article we tell you why you should have your Will drawn up now and how you should go about it.
Why every parent should have a Will
As a parent, making a Will is a way to make sure that your child is well provided for should anything happen to you.
All parents will hope to be there for their child to watch him grow, reach adulthood and become capable of taking care of himself. However, we must also be prepared for the unexpected and make sure that in the unfortunate circumstance that something does happen to us, we have made the necessary provisions for our children.
If you are a new parent or a parent-to-be and have yet to draw up a Will, now is a good time to seriously consider having one made.
In your Will, you should appoint:
- A legal guardian to care for your children in the event of your passing before they reach adulthood;
- A trustee to manage your assets till your child reaches adulthood; and
- 2 executors to distribute your assets and manage your affairs after your death. Being testate would eliminate any uncertainties over your assets in the event you pass away.
While making your Will you need to keep the following points in mind:
Marriage renders past Wills invalid
The first thing to remember is that when you get married, any Will made prior to the marriage is rendered invalid.
This is because, under the Wills Act of Singapore, the newly married spouse is entitled to a share of the estate of his/ her spouse in the event of their death.
You will need to execute a new Will to include beneficiaries other than your spouse whom you have intended to receive a share of your assets.
How do you create a Will?
When drafting a Will, you will need to indicate who your beneficiaries are.
These could be your spouse, children or even charity organizations. You should list down all your assets and liabilities, the portions to be distributed and the manner in which you would like the distribution to be carried out.
You will have to appoint at least one executor and/or trustee to manage the affairs of your assets. When you choose your executor, you should choose a person you trust. If you have beneficiaries under the age of 21, you must have at least 2 executors.
To ensure that your Will is effective and legally valid, you may wish to consult a lawyer who can advise you and draft a Will for you to include any other provisions.
After completing these steps, you will need to sign the Will upon verifying its contents.
Remember that the signing of the Will must be witnessed by two persons at the same time, and they cannot also be your beneficiaries. Do also note that the witness cannot be your spouse.
Should you decide to amend your Will later, you should make a fresh Will or prepare a Supplementary Will (Codicil). To be safe, always consult a lawyer.
Divorce does not revoke a Will
Going through a divorce may be a painful process. Hence, to avoid further complexities with regard to financial matters, it may be prudent to review your Wills and other nominations.
Firstly, a divorce does not revoke a will. You may have previously made a Will to distribute your assets to your ex-spouse after your death.
You may wish to note that an estranged couple going through a separation is still a legally married couple, and under the Intestate Succession Act, the estranged spouse will inherit 50% of your estate. This could be even more than what your elderly parents and children may inherit. Further, as most couples hold their matrimonial home as joint tenants, under the right of survivorship, the other spouse will inherit the whole of the property upon the death of one spouse.
Hence, it is crucial to re-write your Will if you are planning to go through with a divorce. If you have made a Will previously, it is time to review it. You will need to appoint an appropriate executor to distribute your assets per your wishes and a trustee to care for your children if anything untoward happens to you.
Do you know about making a will in Singapore if you are an expatriate? Click on the next page to know more.
What if I am an expatriate?
Expatriate or not, there are implications when one passes away intestate in Singapore, particularly if you have children.
Each jurisdiction sets out different intestacy laws on the distribution of assets when one passes away. In Singapore, particularly, if there are children, the surviving spouse is entitled to 50%, while the remaining 50% is usually divided equally among the children. Should you and your partner pass away together, leaving the children orphaned, all your assets, together with that of your spouse’s will be distributed equally among the children.
If a Will is made in Singapore, and most of your assets are in your home country, your Will may still be recognized as valid by your home country. Nonetheless, if your home country is not under common law, there may be other laws to be considered when recognizing your Will.
If a Will is made in your home country and you have assets here in Singapore, your executor will need to obtain a grant of probate (or go through the resealing process) before he/she can deal with the assets here in Singapore.
It is advisable to seek professional advice when drawing up a Will, to ensure that all issues are dealt with appropriately. You may wish to consult a lawyer who is experienced with expatriate matters in Singapore, especially where more than one jurisdiction is concerned.
This article was contributed by Gloria James-Civetta – Wills & Estate Lawyers