When you’re in your prime working towards the legendary 5 Cs, you’re focused on one thing – success. You’re too busy building your career to worry about little things like death and estate planning right? But before you put the word “will” completely out of your mind, remember that accidents and natural disasters can happen anytime in today’s world.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re cruising down the PIE listening to Lush 99.5, or reading a book on a beach in Phuket – when it’s time to go, you can’t press pause and say “can you spare me a few minutes while I write my will?” The only way to ensure your estate goes to your intended beneficiaries is by writing your will. This one activity could go a long way in allowing you to have some peace of mind with regards to your financial assets.
Here are several important factors to consider when drafting your will:
Why Should You Write a Will?
It’s easy to KIV writing your will until “tomorrow” (which usually means decades later) because it always feels like you have so much time. But unless you’re psychic or your car has a flux capacitor for time travel – you’re not going to know how much “time” you really have until it’s too late. By then, you can’t choose who gets a piece of your estate – the government will decide according to the Interstate Succession Act.
If there’s one reason to write a will, it’s to prevent the government from messing with the division and distribution of your estate. Check out the succession chart on SingaporeLegalAdvice.com to see how the government would divide your assets. While the government attempted to create a “fair” way to divide your estate if you left no will, it doesn’t account for your personal relationships with your prospective “survivors.” This means your estate could potentially go to recipients that XXX.
Let’s use the movie Gran Torino as an example (if I spoil the movie for you, I sincerely apologize). The video below illustrates the importance of writing a will. If Mr. Kowalski had not written a will, the car would have gone to his greedy family instead – making for one of the most unjust endings in movie history.
When Should You Write a Will?
Writing a will isn’t something to put off until you’re lying on your deathbed. In fact, according to the Singapore Wills Act, if you’re at least 21 and sound of mind, you (testator) can write a will. You just need to select a trustworthy and unbiased individual (executor/trustee) to administer your assets (estate) to your loved ones (beneficiaries) in the event you decide to “walk into the light.” So if you write your will sooner in life, you’ll probably end up breathing easier, especially when you’re taking your last breaths.
Of course, at 21, most of us don’t have an abundance of gold bars or blue chip stocks to give our beneficiaries. But it NEVER hurts to write a simple will, which can be done without paying a lawyer. However, paying a lawyer $250 – $750+ for assistance ensures your will can withstand potential legal challenges – something to keep in mind as your assets continue to accumulate. Here’s a list of lawyers and firms in Singapore that can help you write your will.
If you’re a young adult in the following situations, it’s highly advisable to write a will:
- High Risk Professions: Does your job require you to drive all day, operate industrial machinery, or have to set foot on a construction site, shipyard, or a marine vessel? Congratulations, you’re working in professions with confirmed workplace fatalities in Singapore, meaning it’s a good idea to have a will handy.
- Military Personnel: This is a no-brainer for career military personnel who continually train overseas or deploy on Singapore’s UN peacekeeping missions. However, even those serving NS should consider writing a will, as training deaths do occur almost every year.
- Adrenaline Junkies: If you’re into high risk activities like mixed martial arts (MMA), mountaineering, free climbing, base jumping cliff jumping, hang gliding, or you love travelling to conflict areas (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt, and Syria), you definitely need to write a will!
- Love and Marriage: The danger lies in not writing a will when you first marry, or failing to update it every time you remarry, which is riskier. That’s because any previously written will is automatically nullified once you remarry. And if you’ve had children from multiple marriages, your estate distribution plans will be as complex as a French art house film – so save your family some future pain by writing (and revising) your will.
When Should You Include Changes in Your Will?
The fallacy that you only need to write one will in your lifetime (on your deathbed right?) is something that needs to change. I mean, do you really want to rack your brain over who’s getting your Ming Dynasty vase you bought two years ago when you should be spending your final moments with your family?
You can avoid such situations and exit the mortal world gracefully by updating your will whenever you experience life changing events. So what events are we talking about? Here’s a list of such events:
- Getting married
- Getting divorced
- Getting remarried
- Having or adopting children
- Having grandchildren
- Starting a successful business
- Buying a home
- Moving overseas
- Making big investments (property, commodities, stocks, a Ming Dynasty vase, etc.)
Also, don’t forget that as part of your estate planning, you need to ensure your CPF and insurance policy nominations are not only updated, but valid. It’s not unheard of for CPF to render your nominations invalid for a variety of reasons (remarriage, divorce, and new births).
Syariah Guidelines for Muslims
If you’re Muslim, the information presented above won’t apply to you because your estate will be divided up according to the Administration of Muslim Law Act (Sections 111 – 125), with the Syariah Court Singapore having jurisdiction over estate matters. For more information on how your estate will be distributed, check out this helpful overview of Muslim Inheritance Law prepared by The Law Society of Singapore.
Do you have any will writing stories and advice? Share them with us on Facebook!
Keep updated with all the news!
Get the latest personal finance tips and tricks delivered to your inbox!
We promise never to spam you!