Nobody likes to think about their own mortality, especially when you’re young, very much alive, and living it up.
But the truth is, life is unpredictable. Nothing is certain whether you’re a TikTok influencer with millions of followers or a startup founder on the brink of success.
In Singapore, a will is a legally binding document that outlines your final wishes and ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
While writing a will might not be the sexiest thing on your to-do list, it can protect your loved ones and give you peace of mind. In this article, we’ll break down 9 reasons why you should write one.
1. You want to ensure your loved ones are provided for if something happens
Okay, so maybe you don’t have that much money. But should something happen to you, every little bit can help when it comes to providing for the people you love.
Making a will ensures that the people who depend on you most are provided for as much as possible after your death. For instance, if you have a family and die without a will, the rules of intestacy will give half your money to your spouse, and the other half will be divided amongst your kids. But that could mean that your aged parents get nothing.
In addition, if you and your spouse happen to die at the same time, such as in an accident, the older one will be deemed to have died first. That also means that, if both of you don’t have a will and are childless, your assets could go to your spouse and be inherited by his/her parents, leaving your own parents with nothing.
2. You can appoint a legal guardian and trustee for your children
Making a won’t just determine who gets your money. It also enables you to appoint people as caregivers of your kids should you pass on.
In your will, you can nominate a guardian for your children under the age of twenty-one. If you don’t indicate a guardian for your children and you and your spouse are both dead, the guardian will be appointed by the court—and this may not be someone you think would be the best person to look after your child.
You will also be able to appoint a trustee to manage the assets your children have inherited until they become adults.
3. Without a will, your assets will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy
The laws of intestacy dictate that when someone who’s married with kids passes away, half their estate goes to their surviving spouse, and the other half goes to the kids. If he has no kids, half the estate will go his surviving parents instead.
For someone who has no spouse, children or surviving parents, their estate will be divided amongst their siblings.
Now, it’s easy to see that these rules aren’t exactly ideal for a great many people. For instance, if you are unmarried, childless and your parents have passed away, you might not want your siblings to get all your money if you don’t have a good relationship with them.
What’s more, if you and your spouse have a lousy relationship but are not officially divorced, beware that they will still get half your assets should you die, even if you were living separately.
You may also want to donate your money to beneficiaries who aren’t part of your family, such as a trusted friend or a charity. You absolutely need a will to bequeath your assets to them.
4. Not being clear about who gets what can tear your family apart
One big advantage of writing is a will is that you can state very specifically how your assets are to be divided.
For instance, you can indicate who exactly gets your car, who gets your jewellery, and who inherits your computer (preferably a trusted friend who will immediately wipe out your hard drive). You can indicate exactly how much cash each beneficiary gets, and how your property is to be divided.
The more specific you are, the less people will have to argue about when you’re gone. That can go a long way towards keeping your family intact.
If you don’t write a will, don’t be surprised if there are disputes as to how your assets are to be divided and distributed.
5. You have assets located overseas or being held by someone else in trust for you
You might think that Big Brother knows everything about you and what you own, but that is only true of assets held in your name locally, such as money in your bank accounts.
But if you have any overseas assets, such as properties in foreign lands, or assets held in trust for you by anyone inside or outside of Singapore, you should always list them in your will just so they are not forgotten when you die.
6. You’re a single person with people or causes you care about
So, you’ve decided you don’t want kids. You might even hate the idea of reproducing and adding to the population of an already overpopulated earth. Just because you don’t have any progeny to bequeath your wealth to doesn’t mean you should just let the laws of intestacy distribute your money.
Kids or no kids, if there’s any person or any cause on this earth that you care about, that’s a good enough reason to write a will. Whether you want some of your estate to go to a doting relative, your best friend, your favourite Mediacorp celebrity or the friendliest coffee shop uncle in your neighbourhood, you can write them into your will.
Don’t have anyone in particular in mind? You can still bequeath your estate to charities of your choice.
7. You have a same-sex partner
Same-sex marriage is not recognised in Singapore, which means that most members of the LGBTQIA+ community will never be able to get married officially in the eyes of the law.
That also means that, unless you write a will, your partner will get nothing as the laws of intestacy will not recognise them as a family member or relative, even if you’ve been living together for decades. You can protect your partner by writing them into your will.
8. You have pets
No, you cannot let Bow Wow or Meow Meow inherit your wealth.
But you can—and should—arrange for their care should you pass away, otherwise they will just be disposed of like all the other property in your estate and could find themselves at a shelter.
As a pet owner, you should have a conversation with a trusted person who agrees to take care of your pets should you pass away. Make sure they agree and that you can trust them to truly look after your pets. You then write this person into your will as a beneficiary responsible for the care and maintenance of your pets.
Do, however, note that cats are technically not allowed in HDB flats (even though in practice many cat owners do live in HDB estates), so wherever possible, appoint someone who lives in private property to look after your cat.
It is also a good idea to leave some cash to the caretaker on condition that they agree to care for the pet. Make sure that you account for the cost of all the pet’s needs, including food, grooming, supplies and vet visits, which might become more expensive as the animal ages.
9. You have digital assets
Unless you’ve been living in a cave and are reading this article on a papyrus leaf, you have digital assets just like the rest of us—files, emails, search histories and so on.
You might no longer care what people think of you when you’re dead and gone, but your digital assets can affect those who are still alive.
For example, you might not want your spouse or kids to stumble upon your collection of risqué videos. Oops. In addition, some of your digital assets might actually be valuable (or so you hope after giving in to the NFT craze).
In your will, you can set out the various platforms on which your digital assets are stored and indicate what should be done with them when you’re gone.
How do you write a will in Singapore?
Technically, you can even write a will yourself, but there are a few hoops to jump through to ensure that it is valid.
For most people, it is safer to let a professional write it for you and have it witnessed to ensure it is valid.
One way to do this is to engage a lawyer. This is the most expensive avenue but can be a good idea if you are wealthy, have lots of different types of assets, have detailed instructions after your death (e.g. pertaining to the care of children) and/or want to set up complex arrangements such as trusts.
However, if all you have to your name are a few bucks in your bank account, just go for one of the many will writing services available in Singapore.
Do you know someone who’s thinking about writing a will? Share this article with them.
The post Death is Inevitable, But Chaos isn’t: 9 Reasons Why You Should Write a Will appeared first on the MoneySmart blog.
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The post Death is Inevitable, But Chaos isn’t: 9 Reasons Why You Should Write a Will appeared first on MoneySmart Blog.
Original article: Death is Inevitable, But Chaos isn’t: 9 Reasons Why You Should Write a Will.
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