About A Will
A will takes effect after your death. It is a legal document that describes your estate (this means all the money, savings and assets that you have). It also says how your estate will be distributed among your loved ones.
Your will may be very different from another person's. It can be a simple one-page document to a complicated one, depending on your estate. It also contains instructions about the care of young children, special needs children, gifts to charity, and so on.
Why Make 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 based on the law.
What this means is the people you feel should have your money or belongings may not get them. For example, your children have no problems with money but your brother needs financial help. The law will not consider this when it distributes the money among your children instead of giving to your brother.
So if you want to make sure that your money goes where you want it to go, make sure you plan a will.
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.
Making A Will
Wills in Singapore are governed by the Wills Act. You do not need a lawyer, but many people do seek legal advice. This is to avoid the chance that their wills end up being invalid in the eyes of the law.
To make a will, you must be:
- Older than 21 years
- Of sound mind
- Not being a victim of fraud, forced, or taken advantage of by someone else
A will normally has 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 wills you planned previously.
- 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.
Some formalities include:
- Your will must be written.
- You must sign at the foot of the will. If you are unable to do so, you may allow another person to sign it in your presence.
- The signing of your will must be witnessed by two or more witnesses, and they must also sign the will in your presence.
- The two main witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the will, or your spouse. A beneficiary can be a third witness.
A will can be revoked by marriage, by a new will, by a written revocation, or by destroying the old will.
Do review your will from time to time. Read about the Law Society of Singapore's suggestion on when you should do that.
If you need legal advice, you might want to consider visiting a free legal clinic. For a list of legal clinics, please visit the following websites:
The legal clinics are staffed by volunteer lawyers, and not all of them may be experts in this area. You should call the clinic before you visit to make sure they can give you the advice you need.