Date Published: 3 June 2013
A will is one of the best gifts you can leave for your loved ones in the event of your death. By making a will, you ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes and you will also spare your loved ones from unnecessary trouble in the Court application to enable the administration of your estate.
WHAT IF I PASS AWAY WITHOUT MAKING A WILL?
If you pass away without making a will, your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy laid down in the Intestate Succession Act (Cap. 146) and persons to whom you may not intend to give anything may be entitled to a portion of your estate.
Furthermore, without a will, you miss the only opportunity you have to appoint a trusted person as executor who could apply to Court for a Grant of Probate to administer your estate. Instead, your family would have to apply to Court for Letters of Administration which is generally a more complicated, longer and more expensive application than the application for a Grant of Probate.
POSSIBLE SCENARIOS IF YOU DO NOT MAKE A WILL
If you pass away without making a will, the following might happen:-
- If you are a married person with children but you intend to leave some of your estates to your parents, according to the rules of intestacy, your parents would get nothing from you.
- If you are married with no children, and your spouse passes away the day after without making a will, 50% of your estate will be given to your spouse and forms part of his/her estate to which your spouse’s parents may be entitled. Therefore, if your intention is for your estate to be distributed amongst your parents upon your death, that would not happen. Furthermore, because you predecease your spouse, your parents would not be entitled to a share of your spouse’s estate
- If you have young children and your spouse passes away shortly after your death, also without making a will, the person who applies to Court to be appointed as your children’s guardian may not be the person you and your spouse would have chosen if you had given some thought to it.
- If your children inherit a large amount of money upon your death in their twenties, they might not necessarily have the maturity to deal with this situation especially when they have suddenly lost someone so dear to them. By making a will, you can defer the distribution of your estate to them until a later time or in stages and meanwhile, it will be held by your executor on trust for your children.
- If your relationship with your family members is estranged or if you pass away while making an application for divorce, then you might possibly be giving some people a surprise gift that would be an unwelcome surprise to you as well.
- Quarrels might occur between family members, causing public embarrassment and unhappiness within the family about who should rightfully (as opposed to legally) be entitled to what.
As lawyers, we have seen all of the above happen and the possibilities of your estate being distributed in a manner that you did not intend to are endless. Yet, the solution is simple.
Life is unpredictable. Make a will for the benefit of your loved ones and also for your peace of mind before it is too late.
NB: Some of the points mentioned above do not apply to Muslims. Under Section 115(1) of the Administration of Muslim Law Act (Cap. 3), the beneficiaries must apply to the President of the Syariah Court for an Inheritance Certificate to establish the share of each beneficiary. Muslims can only dispose of or give away 1/3 of their estate to persons who are not already entitled under the said Inheritance Certificate.
Disclaimer: This update is provided to you for general information and should not be relied upon as legal advice.
CNPLaw’s Wills and Trusts Lawyer
In addition to Li Fei’s experience in acting for banks on varied transactions and in general corporate law, he also helps individuals in estate planning, including the legal aspects of wealth management, advising on and setting up trusts and off-shore structures to secure their future and the future of their families. For 2020, Li Fei is recommended by The Legal 500 Asia Pacific for the Financial Services Regulatory practice.
Having a will enables one to go further than just providing for one’s family at present. It ensures that upon one’s demise, the selected people will get the amount dictated, and the appointed person will be put in charge of the assets to distribute them according to one’s wishes.
Making a will need not be difficult nor time-consuming. Our fast track wills system eases the will-making process, making it focused on addressing the requirements of our clients in an efficient and cost-effective manner.
Nonetheless, we are mindful that each will is unique and has to be tailored to the specific needs of the client. Clients are therefore invited to discuss their plans with us so that we can ensure their will covers the different classes of assets and beneficiaries in accordance with their wishes.
We also regularly advise and assist clients with the setting up of trusts for various purposes, ranging from protection of assets from creditors to ring-fencing the assets from probate proceedings.
Estate and succession planning can be described as the art of planning and organising personal affairs to achieve maximum wealth protection, for one’s family.
An estate plan may be prepared at any time of one’s life but we usually recommend our clients to start early as this is more effective. Effective estate planning may include appropriately drafted wills and the use of trusts, among other things.
With proper estate planning, our clients are able to minimise the exposure of their accumulated wealth to unnecessary expenses and taxes. This helps them safeguard their wealth during their lifetime and ensures that their loved ones will be properly provided for when their time comes.