Guide To Making a Will - Singapore Edition
Updated: Aug 18, 2022
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that specifies how you want your estate (assets such as money or property) to be distributed after you die. A Will can be written by anyone, not just lawyers.
(See Related: Guide on how to find the right Will provider for you)
What happens if you die without a Will?
Without a Will or if your Will is not valid, your estate will be distributed based on intestacy rules (rules if you die without a Will). Intestacy rules may vary in different countries. For Singapore, your estate will be distributed under the Intestate Succession Act.
(See Related: Guide on Intestacy Laws in Different Countries (Coming Soon!))
Why don't people write a Will?
Here are the common reasons:
“Too difficult”, “Too pricey”, “Too troublesome”, “I don’t have a lot of money or assets”, “I’m not going to die soon”, “I don’t have time now. I’ll do it next time”
When do people write a Will?
Here are some common reasons:
When they buy a house - Because they think they now have a significant asset
When they have kids - Because they need to appoint a guardian or plan for if both partners are not around
When they are very sick
When they grow old
When they do some dangerous or life-risking activities
Why you should write a Will?
Because you want your estate to be distributed the way you want it to be
Because you are considerate for your loved ones and want to avoid them having to go through the long, arduous and more expensive process to distribute estates without a Will
Because you want you and your loved ones to have a peace of mind
Because it helps you figure out what’s most important in life
(Filter, compare and book a Will-making provider on Immortalize Marketplace)
How to write a Will?
Except for the following, there’s no restriction on how to write a Will. “You can even write it on a tissue paper” and that would be valid. But of course, you shouldn’t.
In Singapore, these are the requirements for a valid Will:
It must be in writing
Testator (the person who is writing the Will) must be at least 21 years old
Testator must sign at foot of the Will in front of at least 2 witnesses
The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries (people who will benefit from the Will) or spouses of the beneficiaries
Additionally, the testator must be of sound mind (have mental capacity) and not under undue influence (made the decisions voluntarily) at the time the Will was written and signed.
*Note: If a person has lost mental capacity and a Will is wished to be made, an application of a Statutory Will may be necessary.
Before you start writing your Will, here are some essential questions you should ask yourself:
Do you have assets in other countries?
You might need to consider an International Will that cover all your assets or a Will for each country that you have assets in. (Related article: Comments on need for Concurrent Wills)
Do you have any children under the age of 21?
If yes, you will need to decide who will be their guardian and how best to protect their interests.
(Need help on this? Find the right lawyer via Immortalize Marketplace)
Do you want to make any specific gifts?
Lawyers would often tell you to keep things general and avoid making too many specific gifts. Disputes may arise from being unable to give out these gifts (perhaps because they don't exist or don't belong to you anymore) after your passing.
Do you have any properties?
Property and its distribution among beneficiaries have always been a big part of family disputes.
(See Related: Deep dive into property and estate planning)
Feeling overwhelmed with the list? Time to seek help. We have written a Guide to help you figure out whether you should use an online Will or find professional help.
How much does it cost to make a Will?
Online Will - From $0 to ~$100+
Lawyer - ~$400 for a lawyer specializing in Wills & Estates but range can be from $99 to $5000. (See Guide on how to find the right lawyer)
Non-legal Will writing companies - Somewhere between online Will and lawyers although we have seen some that charges more than lawyers.
What can’t you give away in your Will?
Central Provident Fund (CPF) You can decide where your CPF savings will go by filling in a CPF nomination form separately. Without this form, your savings will be distributed according to the Intestate Succession Act. Make and Submit your CPF Nomination form online.
Joint Assets eg. Joint bank accounts, properties co-owned via joint tenancy arrangements
Why do you need to update or change your Will?
You should constantly review and update your Will to keep it in line with how you want your assets distributed. Examples of major life events that may require you to update or change your Will includes:
Changes in relationships:
Increase in family size (birth of a child/grandchild)
Divorce and remarriage
If you made a Will before your marriage, your Will will automatically be revoked upon marriage. However, your Will will NOT be revoked upon divorce.
Changes in assets:
Purchase or sale of property
Starting a new business
Change of religion
Incapacity/death of beneficiary, executor, or guardian
Changes in the law
Change in your domicile (place where your permanent home is)
What to do if you want to update/change your Will?
There are two ways:
You can opt for a codicil, which is an additional document that attaches to your Will. The main risk of this way is that the attachment might get lost, which could lead to serious problems.
You can shred your old Will and make a new Will - Make sure you update your executors where this new Will is stored.
What to do after you've written your Will?
Your Will is an important document and should be stored in a safe place. Regardless of where you put it, make sure your executor and/or family knows where the Will is. Here are some ways to store your Will:
In your own safety deposit box
In the Wills registry. Note that the Wills registry don't keep actual Wills. Only details of the person making the Will, date of the Will, details of the person who drew up the Will and details of where the Will is stored. It costs SG$50 to deposit a Will record and SG$10 to search for a Will record.
Note: There is a "beta" (ie, test) version of a new Singapore government initiative, My Legacy, that allows citizens and permanent residents to input will information (eg. where the will is stored and when it's made) online.
In a financial institution's safety deposit box
Use a Will custody service
Some lawyers can keep your Will in their office
What are the common reasons that people use to dispute a Will?
Invalid Will The Will has failed formalities when it was drafted.
Undue influence The person has written the Will under influence by others or under duress, deviating from the person's true wishes.
Fraud The person have signed the Will thinking it was another document at the time.
Did not provide reasonably for some dependents According to the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act, some dependent/family member can request the court for claims on an estate if the dependent believes that he/she hasn't been reasonably provided for.
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Disclaimer: Nothing in this article, video or site should be construed as providing legal advice or advice of any sort. The information provided are general in nature and may become inaccurate over time. Please consult a professional for advice.
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