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Wills

Updated: Aug 14

Can I make a Will without a lawyer? How much does making a Will cost? What should you not include in a Will?


Property disposable by Will

Every person may devise, bequeath or dispose of by his Will, all real estate and all personal estate which he shall be entitled to at the time of his death.


Will of infant invalid

No Will made by any person under the age of 21 years shall be valid.


Mode of execution

No Will shall be valid unless it is in writing.


Every Will shall be signed at the foot or end by the testator, or by some other person in his presence and by his direction, and the signature shall be made or acknowledged by the testator as the signature to his Will in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time, and those witnesses shall subscribe the will in the presence of the testator, but no form of attestation shall be necessary.


Publication of Will not necessary

Every Will shall be valid without any other publication.


Attesting witness

A person shall attest the execution of a Will.


The attesting witness shall be admitted as a witness to prove the execution of the Will or to prove the validity or invalidity.


Executor not incompetent to be witness

No person shall, on account of his being an executor of a Will, be incompetent to be admitted a witness to prove the execution of the Will or to prove the validity or invalidity.


Will to be revoked by marriage except in certain cases

Every Will made by a man or woman shall be revoked by his or her marriage.


Where a Will is expressed to be made in contemplation of a marriage, the Will shall not be revoked by the solemnization of the marriage contemplated; and this shall apply notwithstanding that the marriage contemplated may be the first, second or subsequent marriage of a person lawfully practising polygamy.


Revocation of Will

A Will shall be revoked —


(a) by another Will;


(b) by some writing declaring an intention to revoke it; or


(c) by the burning, tearing, or otherwise destroying the Will by the testator, or by some person in his presence and by his direction, with the intention of revoking it.


You can appoint a legal guardian for your children through a Will.


What if you don't have a Will?

If you pass away without leaving a Will, everything you own (your estate) will be distributed according to Singapore's Intestate Succession Act. Intestacy laws determine who gets what.


What is intestacy?

Intestacy is the term used for someone who has passed away without a Will.


The rules are as follows:

​Survivors

​Who gets what

Spouse (no parents or child)

​Spouse gets everything.

Spouse, children (with or without parents)

Spouse gets half, children get the other half in equal portions.

Children (no spouse)

Children get everything in equal portions. Grandchildren can claim their parent’s share in equal portions if their parent is deceased.

Spouse, parents (no children)

Spouse gets half, parents get half in equal portions.

Parents (no spouse or children)

Spouse gets half, parents get half in equal portions.

Brothers and sisters (no spouse, children or parents)

Brothers and sisters get everything in equal portions. If a brother or sister is deceased, their children can claim their share.

Grandparents (no spouse, children, parents or siblings)

Grandparents will each get the estate in equal portions.

Uncles and aunts (no spouse, children, parents, siblings or grandparents)

Uncles and aunts get the estate in equal portions.

None

Everything goes to the government.

The Intestate Succession Act does not apply to Muslims. The estate of a Muslim is governed by Muslim law.


Consequences of intestacy

Should you pass away intestate, a number of issues may arise.


Uncertainty over guardians


If both parents pass away at the same time, guardianship over their children is uncertain. Disagreements may arise as to who is the most suitable person to be the guardian. The ex-spouse may be able to gain access to the assets as the other parent of the children.


Delay in settlement


Without a Will, the probate process gets more complicated. Distribution of assets may take longer resulting in higher legal costs.


Unintended consequences


Distribution of assets may not reflect what the deceased intended. Elderly parents will be excluded if the deceased leaves behind a spouse and children. When appointing administrators, the law gives priority to the next of kin of the deceased person’s family. This may not be in accordance with your wishes.


Unhappiness and disputes over your estate can be prevented.


What is probate?

Probate is a legal process of distributing an estate according to the terms of a Will. The executor named in the Will has to apply for a Grant of Probate to legally distribute a deceased’s assets.


How to apply

Depending on the value or complexity of the estate, a lawyer may or may not be needed. A lawyer can help an executor:

  • Verify the original Will at the Probate Counter, Registry of the Family Justice Court.

  • Present court papers to extract the Grant of Probate. Documents include originating summons, supporting affidavit and schedule of assets.

The whole process may take 3 to 6 months. You may receive the Grant of Probate within a month of filing the last court document.


As for which Court to apply to, generally, estates with assets of less than $5 million fall under the jurisdiction of the Family Courts. Estates of a higher value fall under the Family Division of the High Court.


Documents needed


You will need the following documents:

  • Original death certificate of the deceased

  • Original Will of the deceased

  • The deceased’s marriage certificate (if any)

  • Original death certificates of next of kin who have passed on

  • Original death certificate of executor who may have passed on

  • Children’s identity cards and birth certificates


Here's the probate process with a Will:

1. Your family receives a death certificate.


2. The executor you appointed applies to the Court for a Grant of Probate with a Schedule of Assets and other relevant documents.


3. Grant of Probate is issued.


4. The executor distributes your estate according to your Will.


What if there is no Will?

Without a Will giving clear instructions on how to distribute an estate, the probate process gets more complicated. It will be longer and more expensive.


Here's the probate process without a Will:

1. Your family receives a death certificate.


2. Your family has to decide on an administrator for your estate, or have one appointed by the Court.


The administrator is usually the spouse or one of the next-of-kin of the deceased, i.e. a beneficiary under the Intestate law (for non-Muslims) or by Muslim law (for Muslims).


3. If they want to waive their rights to be administrators, they need to write to the Court.


4. The assigned administrator files an Administration Bond with 2 sureties. Each surety must have assets worth the total value of your estate.


5. With a Schedule of Assets, the administrator will apply to the Court for the Letters of Administration.


6. Grant of Letters of Administration is then issued.


7. The administrator distributes the estate according to the Intestate Succession Act.


Once the Court has issued the Grant, the administrator or executor may bring it to the banks or to HDB to get access to your assets.


Alternatives to the Grant of Probate

If your estate is less than $50,000, your family can apply to the Public Trustee's Office for help in administering it, instead of going to Court. They don't have to apply for a grant of probate, provided they meet all the requirements.


If you would like to know more, please contact Bestar.



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