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4 Things Every Singaporean Must Do to Prepare for Passing On No Matter How Far Off It May Seem

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Joanne Poh

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One of Singaporeans’ favourite sayings is that it’s cheaper to die in Singapore than it is to fall sick. Unfortunately, dying isn’t all that cheap either, as your family members will find out should you kick the bucket anytime soon. While that might sound morbid, quite frankly we never really know when it’s our time to go.

This means it’s never too early to start making preparations for your own death. Yikes! In fact, getting your affairs in order can save the people you leave behind a huge headache should you get crushed by a falling piano. Here are some of the preparations you can and actually should make now, while you’re still in the land of the living.

1. Make a will

Lots of people make the mistake of thinking that there’s no point in making a will unless you’re loaded. After all, who cares about what happens to your measly $2,000 of savings? Well, that’s because they don’t realise that there are other things you can specify in your will, other than the ways you plan to dispose of your wealth and property.

Just to mention a few, you can nominate whom you want to look after your kids. You can leave instructions for your funeral. You can even get someone to delete all the files in your computer. Basically, once you’re dead, you get to tell people what to do.

Writing a will doesn’t have to mean hiring an expensive lawyer, although it can certainly help, because the last thing you want is for your will to be invalid, by which time you’ll be dead and unable to do anything except scream soundlessly from above (or below).

2. Make a CPF nomination

Every single Singaporean should make a CPF nomination. Doing so tells the government who gets to inherit your CPF money when you die. Unlike your other assets, CPF monies cannot be distributed using a will. If you don’t make a CPF nomination, the money in your CPF accounts will be distributed to your family as if you didn’t have a will (even if you do have one).

This means your spouse will get everything if you don’t have kids and your parents are no longer alive. If you do have kids, your spouse gets half and the remainder is split equally between the kids. If you have no kids but have a spouse and parents, your spouse gets half and the remainder is split between the parents equally. As you can see, you might wish to distribute your CPF money a bit differently.

Note that once you get married, your nomination will automatically get cancelled and you’ll have to redo it. The same does NOT happen when you get a divorce, so you’d better remember to make a new nomination removing your ex-spouse as a beneficiary!

3. Leave instructions for your funeral

If you belong to the camp of people that couldn’t care less what sort of funeral they get, since they’ll be dead anyway, you can disregard this. However, we’re pretty superstitious here in Singapore, if I do say so myself. Hence many people may have some sort of preference as to how their funeral should go.

For instance, your parents could be practising Taoists while you’re in a born again Christian, in which case you might want to specify that you be given a Christian funeral.

Another thing you’ll have to think of is how your body should be disposed of. Whether you choose to be buried, cremated or have your ashes scattered at sea, all these things cost money. If you’re kiasu you might want to get your own plot or space at the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex (the only one in Singapore accepting burials) or columbarium ahead of time.

Finally, all these things cost money. If you have the cash, you might want to provide for the funerary expenses in your will so your family members won’t bicker about who should pay for what. A burial alone can cost at least $1,000.

4. Register a Lasting Power of Attorney

While many Singaporeans might have had no idea what a lasting power of attorney was before, after the whole Yang Yin saga you can be sure they got up to speed pretty quickly.

To put things simply, your will dictates what will happen if you die. But what happens if you don’t die but lose your mental capacity? Someone has to make decisions for you, and that is the person you will appoint under a Lasting Power of Attorney (ie. The Yang Yin figure in the story of your life… or not).

Have you ever thought about making a will? Let us know in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.