About A Will
In simple terms, a Will is a legal document that takes effect after your death describing how your estate will be distributed among your loved ones. Your estate comprises the money you have and assets like property, shares and business that you own.
You may also leave instructions on how to care for young children, special needs children, gifts to charity, etc.
How To Make A Will
You do not need a lawyer to make a Will but many people do seek legal advice to ensure that the Will is valid and enforceable in the eyes of the law.
Wills in Singapore are governed by the Wills Act.
The requirements for a valid Will in Singapore are:
- The Will must be committed to writing.
- You must be at least 21 years old, and of sound mind.
- You must sign the will at the foot of the Will.
- Your signature must be witnessed by 2 or more witnesses, who must also sign the Will in his presence.
- The 2 main witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the Will, or spouses of beneficiaries.
If you are unable to sign at the foot of the Will, you may allow another person to sign it on you behalf and in your presence. In addition, witnesses apart from the 2 main witnesses can also be beneficiaries.
A Will should have the following:
- A list of all of your assets
- A list of all your liabilities (which means your debts). State how you want to pay your debts off before your assets are distributed to the beneficiaries
- The beneficiaries and guardians, and how much each one is to receive
- The executors to carry out your will. A beneficiary may also be the executor.
- The advisors (such as your lawyers and accountants)
- A revocation clause: this is to cancel out any previous written Wills.
- A residuary clause: this is to say how you want to distribute the rest of your estate. For example, if a beneficiary dies before you, the assets you leave him will be part of this remainder.
A Will can be revoked by marriage, by a new Will, by a written revocation, or by destroying the old Will.
It is good that you review your Will from time to time or when there is a significant change in your financial position.
Free Legal Advice
If you need legal advice, you can consider consulting a free legal clinic. These legal clinics are staffed by volunteer lawyers but not all of them may be qualified in writing of Wills so you should call the clinic before visiting.
What If You Do Not Have A Will?
If you do not have a will, the Public Trustee, an office under the Ministry of Law, will decide who receives your property according to Singapore’s laws of inter-state succession.
According to these rules, your spouse gets everything if you are married without kids. If you are married with kids, your spouse gets 50%, while your children split the other 50% equally.
The rules also cover other scenarios, depending on what surviving family members you have. For instance, if you have no spouse, children or parents, your siblings may inherit your assets in equal portions or, if they are deceased their children can inherit them in their place.
Finally, if you have no surviving spouse, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, uncles or aunts, the government gets all your assets.
Dying without a will also means that there is no chance that any of your assets will go to friends, acquaintances or charities.
You can appoint an executor, who is someone you trust to make sure your wishes are carried out. You can also appoint a guardian to take care of the property or money you are leaving for your children.