Wills, Probate & Administration of Estate

Wills, Probate & Administration of Estate

1. Why should I make a will?
A will is an important instrument that ensures that upon your death, your estate is distributed to your loved ones in the way you want.

If there is no will, your assets will have to be distributed accordingly to the relatives in proportions as provided under Intestate Succession Act upon your death.  If you did not leave a valid will, you are deemed to have died intestate.

For those who died intestate (did not leave a will) and is without any surviving relatives, the entire estate goes to the state.

2. What are the benefits of having a will done?
If you have made a valid will, the court procedure in obtaining the grant of representation to distribute your estate is simpler.

The estimated time needed to obtain the grant of representation from the court will be longer if you did not make a will in your lifetime.

Legal costs incurred for a Grant of Letters of Administration (where there is no will) will be higher than for a Grant of Probate (where there is a will).

If there is a will, the appointed executor will administer the estate, whereas in the case of no will, there may be a fight among the family members as to who should apply as an administrator.

With a will, you get to decide who should be your beneficiary and the proportion each beneficiary obtains out of your estate left behind upon your death.

3. I want to make a will.  Where should I start?
You should decide who to appoint as your executor of your will. It is recommended that the executor should be a person you can trust and preferably someone who is younger than you as it is more probable that he will outlive you. The executor needs to be willing and
competent enough to deal with your personal matters and financial affairs upon your death.

Next, consider making a list of your beneficiaries and your respective gifts to them. Gifts may be a specific item and fixed amount; or it may be a percentage of the net value of your estate.

You may also wish to consider appointing a guardian in your will if you have young kids, so that in the event of death of both parents, there will be no arguments between relatives on both sides as to who should care for the children.

4. Can my executor be my beneficiary too?
Yes, most people appoint one of their beneficiaries as their executor.

5. What other information should I prepare if I want to make a will?
You will need to consider the value of each asset under your name and the location of your assets.

Due to differences in inheritance laws of countries, if you have properties such as house or apartment located overseas, you will need to consider making a separate will in the country in which the property is situated.

Remember to inform your lawyer if you have made a previous will before or you have an existing will made in respect of properties in another country. This is to prevent unintended revocation of previous wills.

6. What happens to my will when I die?
Your executor needs to bring your original will to a lawyer who will then assist in the application to the Court for the Grant of Probate. Your executor will be able to liquidate and consolidate your estate with the Grant of Probate.

7. I heard that marriage automatically revokes a will, is it true?
Yes, marriages automatically revoke a will, unless it was expressly stated in the will that it was made in contemplation of an intending marriage.

Even if you do not wish to change the contents of your will after your marriage, you should still do a fresh will to ensure that you are covered with a valid will.

8. Does my will cover my CPF moneys?
No, a will does not cover CPF moneys.

Your CPF moneys will be distributed to the named nominees in the CPF nomination form signed by you before your death.

If you have not signed any CPF nomination form, the CPF moneys will be distributed to the beneficiaries in the manner as provided for in the Intestate Succession Act.

9. Do I need a lawyer to make a will?  Can’t I just download a template from internet and make a DIY will?
There is no legal requirement for a will to be prepared by a lawyer. However, a person who has no legal training is unlikely to have full understanding of the formal requirements of a valid will in Singapore.

For example, there is a formal requirement in legislation that a will needs to be signed before 2 witnesses, and that none of the witnesses should be a named beneficiary in the will or the spouse of a beneficiary named in the will.

The professional fees usually charged for preparing a simple will is affordable and as such, it would be foolish for any person to attempt to do a DIY will and risk having the will being invalid upon his or her death.

10. I have a property that is jointly-owned with my spouse, can I will my portion of the flat to my children or to my other loved ones?
If the manner of holding is joint tenancy, your surviving spouse takes the entire title to the property.

If the manner of holding is tenants-in-common, your share of the property goes to your estate either in accordance with your will or gets distributed in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act.

11. What is the difference between a Will and a Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”)?
A Will is an instrument which allows a person to dispose of his estate at time of his death.

An LPA is an instrument which allows one to appoint a done to make decisions and act on their behalf as a proxy decision-maker if he should lose his mental capacity in future.

In other words, a Will operates only upon death whereas an LPA operates when the person loses mental capacity, for example suffers from dementia or falls into deep coma.

12. I am not that old yet, my Will and LPA can wait…
When a person has lost his mental capacity, it becomes impossible for him to execute a will or a LPA.

Therefore, it makes good sense for one to make a will and a LPA earlier when he is of good health, because no one can ever predict when illness or death will take place.

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