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Make Sure Your Voice is Heard - How to Create a Valid Will in Singapore
Viewed by 1,384 Smart Towkays
A will is a legal document that outlines an individual's wishes for the distribution of their assets and the appointment of guardians for minor children upon their death. While many people in Singapore may believe that creating a will is unnecessary, it is important to understand that it is a crucial aspect of financial planning that provides peace of mind and security for loved ones.
Creating a valid will in Singapore is essential to ensure that your wishes are carried out according to your intentions. It is especially important for business owners and SMEs who have accumulated significant assets during their lifetime. Without a valid will, the distribution of assets can be contested, and it may take a long time to resolve, causing unnecessary stress and financial strain on loved ones.
In this blog post, we will discuss the requirements for creating a valid will in Singapore. We will cover the legal formalities that must be followed to ensure that your will is legally binding and recognized by the court. We will also explore common misconceptions and mistakes to avoid when creating a will, and provide tips on how to ensure that your will is up-to-date and reflects your current wishes.
Understanding the Requirements for a Valid Will in Singapore
Understanding the requirements for a valid will in Singapore is crucial to ensure that your voice is heard and your assets are distributed according to your wishes. By the end of this blog post, you will have a comprehensive understanding of what is required to create a valid will in Singapore, and the steps you can take to ensure that your will is legally binding and recognized by the court.
In the first part of this blog, we will be looking into the importance of having a valid will in Singapore to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. However, it is crucial to understand that creating a will is not just about drafting a document that expresses your desires. There are specific legal requirements that must be followed to make a will legally binding in Singapore.
Legal Requirements for Creating a Valid Will in Singapore
Under the Wills Act (Chapter 352) of Singapore, a will is considered valid if it meets the following requirements:
Testamentary capacity: The testator (person making the will) must be of sound mind and understand the implications of making a will.
Intention: The testator must have the intention to make a will and understand the nature and effect of the document.
Proper formalities: The will must be in writing and signed by the testator in the presence of two witnesses who must also sign the will in the presence of the testator.
Free from undue influence: The testator must not be under any undue influence, coercion, or fraud when making the will.
Common Misconceptions about Wills
One common misconception about wills is that they are only necessary for the wealthy. However, regardless of the size of your personal estate, having a will is essential to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
Another misconception is that you can only make a will when you are old. However, the truth is that anyone over the age of 21 and of sound mind can make a will.
The Importance of Following Legal Guidelines
Failing to follow the legal requirements for creating a valid will can result in the document being declared invalid. This can cause significant problems, including disputes over the distribution of assets, delays in the distribution process, and additional expenses.
Therefore, it is crucial to consult a lawyer (or a family lawyer) when making a will to ensure that it meets all legal requirements and accurately reflects your wishes.
What could likely happen in worst scenario if the will has not followed the guidelines strictly?
Like mentioned before, the consequences of not following the legal guidelines for creating a valid will in Singapore can be severe, and it can lead to the document being declared invalid in a worst-case scenario. This can result in your assets being distributed according to the laws of intestacy instead of your wishes.
Disputes between family members can arise, causing delays in the distribution process and additional expenses. In the absence of a valid will, the court may have to appoint an administrator to distribute the assets, which can be a lengthy and costly process.
Furthermore, if the will is found to be invalid due to a failure to follow the legal guidelines, it can also lead to challenges to the validity of other legal documents, such as power of attorney or trust documents.
Note that it is important to understand that creating a valid will in Singapore is not just about expressing your wishes; it is also about following legal requirements to ensure that your wishes are carried out and that your loved ones are provided for in the way you intended.
Steps for Creating a Valid Will in Singapore
Creating a valid will in Singapore involves several important steps that must be followed to ensure that your wishes are carried out. These steps are as follows:
Determine your assets and liabilities
Before creating a will, it is essential to take an inventory of your assets and liabilities. This includes any property, investments, bank accounts, and debts that you may have. This will help you to determine how you want your assets to be distributed after your death.
Decide on your beneficiaries
Once you have a clear understanding of your assets and liabilities, you need to decide who you want to inherit your assets. This may include your spouse, children, siblings, or other family members, as well as charities or other organizations.
Appoint an executor
An executor is a person responsible for administering your estate after your death. You should appoint someone you trust and who has the necessary skills and experience to handle your affairs. It is important to discuss this with them and ensure they are willing to take on this role.
Write the will
Once you have determined your assets and liabilities, beneficiaries, and executor, you can proceed to draft your will. It is advisable to seek the guidance of a reputable wills lawyer to ensure that the will is drafted according to legal requirements and accurately reflects your wishes.
Witness and sign the will
After drafting your will, you need to sign it in the presence of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries and also in the presence of both the testator and each other.
Yes, in addition to that, a revocation clause and a residuary clause are also important components of a valid will in Singapore.
A revocation clause is a provision in the will that states any previous wills or codicils are revoked, ensuring that the current will is the only valid one. This clause can also revoke any gifts or bequests made in previous wills.
A residuary clause is a provision in the will that distributes any remaining assets that are not specifically addressed in the will. This clause ensures that all of your assets are distributed according to your wishes, even if there are assets that you may have forgotten to include in the will.
It is important to include both a revocation clause and a residuary clause in your will to ensure that it is comprehensive and legally valid. These clauses should be drafted carefully to avoid any ambiguity or confusion.
Common Issues to Avoid When Writing a Will
Writing a will can be a complex process, and there are several common issues that should be avoided to ensure that your wishes are carried out properly. Here are some of the most common issues to keep in mind:
Leaving out important information
One of the most common issues with wills is leaving out important information. This can include failing to specify beneficiaries clearly or leaving out important assets or liabilities. To avoid this issue, it is important to carefully consider all of your assets and liabilities and ensure that you have included all relevant information in your will.
Failing to update the will regularly
Another common issue is failing to update the will regularly. It is important to review and update your will periodically to ensure that it accurately reflects your current wishes and circumstances. This can include changes in beneficiaries, assets, or other important information.
Not considering tax implications
Failing to consider tax implications is another common issue when writing a will. Depending on your circumstances, your estate may be subject to taxes, and it is important to consider these implications when drafting your will. This can help to minimize the tax burden on your beneficiaries and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
Choosing an unsuitable executor
Choosing an unsuitable executor can also lead to issues with your will. It is important to select an executor who is trustworthy, reliable, and has the necessary skills and experience to handle your affairs. This can include ensuring that they are willing to take on the role and have a good understanding of your wishes and intentions.
Other issues to consider include ensuring that your will is clear and unambiguous, seeking professional advice when necessary, and ensuring that the will is stored securely.
Alternatives to a Will in Singapore
While writing a will is an important part of estate planning, there are also several alternatives to consider. Here are some of the most common alternatives to a will in Singapore:
A trust is a legal arrangement governed by the Trustees Act (Cap 337) where assets are held by a trustee for the benefit of beneficiaries. Trusts can be used to provide for beneficiaries in a way that is not possible through a will. This can include providing for beneficiaries with specific needs or circumstances, such as minors or individuals with disabilities. Trusts can also offer tax advantages and greater flexibility in distributing assets.
Joint tenancy is a type of ownership where two or more people own a property together. When one owner dies, their share of the property automatically passes to the other owner(s) without the need for a will. While joint tenancy can be a simple and effective way to transfer property, it can also have disadvantages, such as the risk of unintended consequences and potential tax implications.
Insurance policies, such as life insurance or critical illness insurance, can also be used to provide for beneficiaries in the event of your death. These policies can provide financial support for your loved ones and can be a valuable addition to your estate planning strategy.
Hiring a Professional Will Writer in Singapore
While it is possible to write a will on your own, there are many benefits to hiring a professional will writer in Singapore. Here are some of the key benefits to consider:
Benefits of hiring a professional will writer
A professional will writer can provide valuable advice and guidance on estate planning, ensuring that your wishes are carried out according to your intentions. They can also help to minimize the risk of legal disputes and ensure that your will is legally valid and enforceable. Additionally, a professional will writer can help to streamline the process and save you time and effort.
In today's age, you can easily find professional will writing services that is suited for you on social platform like LinkedIn with convenience.
Finding a reliable will writer
When hiring a professional will writer in Singapore, it is important to find someone who is reliable and experienced. This can include asking for referrals from friends and family or researching online reviews and ratings. It is also important to ensure that the will writer is properly licensed and regulated by the appropriate authorities.
Costs of hiring a will writer
The cost of hiring a will writer in Singapore can vary depending on a range of factors, such as the complexity of your estate and the level of service required. However, it is important to ensure that you are getting a fair and transparent price for the services provided. You may want to consider getting quotes from multiple will writers and comparing their services and fees before making a decision.
Here is a free will writing service offered by OCBC. All you need to do is fill in the information they ask for and within a matter of time, you have your will generated without any cost at all!
- Many will writing services offer simple wills for around $300 to $500, and typically provide witnesses. Some of these service providers also offer secure storage of your will for a specified time period.
- When engaging a lawyer, the cost can vary significantly depending on the individual lawyer services, the value of your estate, and the complexity of the will. Those with larger estates and/or longer wills may incur higher fees.
In conclusion, creating a valid will in Singapore is an essential part of estate planning that ensures your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your passing.
Without doubt, creating a valid will can provide peace of mind and security for both you and your loved ones. It is never too early or too late to create a will, and it is a responsible step to take in planning for the future. We encourage you to take action and create a valid will in Singapore, and we recommend reviewing and updating it periodically to ensure that it reflects any changes in your circumstances or wishes.
Remember, a well-drafted will can ensure that your voice is heard even after you are gone, providing your loved ones with the necessary guidance and support during a difficult time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I draft my own will without a lawyer's assistance?
Yes, you can draft your own will without a lawyer's assistance in Singapore. However, it is important to ensure that it follows the legal guidelines and requirements to be valid and enforceable.
Can I include my digital assets in my will?
Yes, you can include your digital assets in your will by specifying them in the assets section. It is essential to list down your digital assets and ensure that your executor has access to them after your passing.
What happens if I pass away without a valid will in Singapore?
If you pass away without a valid will in Singapore, your assets will be distributed according to the Intestate Succession Act, which may not align with your wishes. This can lead to complications, disputes, and delays in distributing your assets.
Can I change my will after it has been signed and witnessed?
Yes, you can change your will after it has been signed and witnessed by executing a new will or adding a codicil. It is important to ensure that any changes are legally valid and enforceable.
How often should I update my will?
It is recommended to review and update your will regularly, especially after significant life events such as marriage, divorce, birth, death, or acquiring or disposing of assets. A general guideline is to review it every three to five years or whenever there are changes in your circumstances.
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