Everyone deserves to have their assets distributed according to their wishes after they die. Engaging the service of a professional will writer when writing a will in Singapore is highly recommended because certain complications may arise when a person tries to write their own will. Let’s see what are some of the common scenarios of writing a will without the help of a professional:
1) Not having two or more witnesses to the will
The law requires having two or more witnesses for a will in Singapore. It is stated in Section 6(2) of Singapore’s Wills Act that for a person’s will to be recognised by the law in Singapore, the testator (the individual whose estate will be distributed upon their death) must sign the will in the presence of two or more witnesses. Failure to do so may render the will void.
2) Having witnesses who are also the beneficiaries of the will
As mentioned previously, if one wishes to have their will recognised by the court in Singapore, they must have at least two main witnesses present when signing the will. However, both witnesses must have no stakes in the will and must not benefit from the passing of the testator. If the testator wishes to have the beneficiary of the will to be a witness, then the beneficiary can only act as a third witness, in addition to the two main witnesses of the will. Having a witness who is a beneficiary will not necessarily void a will; it only invalidates the asset to the beneficiary.
3) Distributing assets, such as joint properties, that are outside their own estate
In the previous blog post, Common Issues Overlooked When Writing a Will in Singapore, it is mentioned that joint assets, such as joint properties, do not form a part of the testator’s estates and therefore, cannot be distributed via a will. When the person dies, their share of the property passes to the surviving joint owner automatically on their death.
However, if the property is owned as tenants in common, then the deceased’s share of the property will pass in accordance with their will. Inexperienced DIY will writers may encounter some issue when trying to distribute assets that are outside of their own estate. An experienced will writer can offer helpful advice to navigate this matter.
4) Distributing CPF money and/or insurance payout
When it comes to writing a will, both CPF money and insurance payout can be rather complicated.
CPF money, a separate nomination known as the CPF nomination, must be made to ensure that CPF money is distributed according to the wishes of the testator.
Insurance payout for insurance policies is dependent on whether a nomination is made under the Nomination of Beneficiaries Act. If no nominations were made, then the will can include the insurance policies and vice versa.
5) Not having a Residuary Clause
A residuary clause is a clause that accounts for all future assets that have not been made at the time of writing the will. If this clause is excluded from the will, any asset that is not included in the will may be distributed according to the intestacy law in Singapore, rather than in accordance with the testator’s wishes. Hence, it is always advisable to engage an experienced will writer when drafting your will in Singapore to prevent unwanted scenarios.
The above-mentioned scenarios are likely to happen if you plan on writing a will without engaging a professional will writer. Getting the expertise from a will expert can save you the hassle and time, and ensure that your assets will be distributed in line with your wishes.
Special thanks to Financial Alliance’s Corporate Development Director, MK Chan, Financial Alliance’s Financial Advisory Director, Lee Wei Meng, for sharing their knowledge and experience to make this article possible.
– Written by Malcolm Mejin, the Financial Alliance Writing Team
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Important: The information and opinions in this article are for general information purposes only. They should not be relied on as professional financial advice. Readers should seek independent financial advice that is customised to their specific financial objectives, situations & needs.