Maybe the most valuable thing you own is your smartphone. Maybe the only individual you care about in this world is your cat. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to write a will.
Of course, it goes without saying that if you have kids, aged parents or really anyone in the world who depends on you, writing a will is absolutely essential.
A will ensures that all your assets, no matter how abundant or how modest, are properly distributed according to your wishes after your death.
Even if you think you don’t have much of value, you can write a will for free or cheap these days, so there’s really no reason not to.
How to write a will in Singapore?
Technically speaking, anybody can write a valid will in Singapore, not just lawyers. But not every will that gets written is valid.
In order for a will to be valid, it must satisfy the following requirements:
- It must be in writing.
- You must be at least 21.
- You must sign the will at the bottom.
- Your signature must be witnessed by at least two witnesses who are neither beneficiaries of your will nor spouses of beneficiaries. These witnesses must sign the will in front of you.
- This is not compulsory, but it’s a good idea to submit the whereabouts of your will to the government’s Will Registry, and let your executors know too.
That’s the easy part. But just because a will is technically valid doesn’t mean it will do everything you want it to do.
In your will, you should include a list of all your assets, and clearly designate all your beneficiaries (or, if your beneficiaries are too young, their guardians) and how much each one is going to receive.
Don’t forget to include a list of your liabilities (eg. your debts) and indicate how you want them to be paid off using your assets before the remainder is distributed to your beneficiaries.
You should also name your executors and your advisors (eg. lawyers or accountants), and include a clause that revokes previous wills.
Finally, it’s very likely you won’t be able to include every single asset you own in the will. What’s more, some of your beneficiaries might die before you, thus leaving their share unclaimed. So you’ll have to put in a clause that indicates how you want the remainder of your estate to be distributed.
How much does it cost to write a will?
If you want to be very sure your will distributes your assets the way you want it to, you might want to seek help from a professional.
This is especially so if you’ve got a large estate. You don’t want to let millions fall into the wrong hands just to save a few hundred bucks.
Free will writing services
Chargeable will writing services (from $267.50)
- NTUC Income’s will writing service – Simple wills cost $267.50 to $353.10 for NTUC income policy holders, and $374.50 to $450.10 for non-policy holders.
- Other will writing services – Simple wills usually cost about $300 to $500, and witnesses are generally provided. Some of these service providers can also safekeep your will for a number of years.
- Engage a lawyer – The price really varies from lawyer to lawyer, and also depends on how the lawyer is feeling that day, how much your estate is worth and how complicated your will is (heads-up: if you’re bequeathing billions and your will is twenty pages long, the lawyer sure as heck will not be charging you only $100).
Do you need a lawyer to write a will?
As you’ve probably already deduced, no, you don’t need a lawyer to write a will. Anyone can write a will for you or for themselves.
That being said, just because you’ve written your own will doesn’t mean it’s necessarily valid.
Why should you write a will?
If you have dependants like kids or aged parents, or simply people you love and whom you want to take care of when you’re gone, a will lets you distribute your assets to them according to your wishes. You can also bequeath your assets to a charity or organisation.
Wills also legally protect your family. For instance, if you have young children, a will can appoint a guardian for them if their parents should pass away.
You can also indicate other wishes you might have when you die, from having your ashes scattered over the ocean to having somebody look after your dog. Note, however, that it is not always within your executors’ power to carry out your wishes.
Finally, many people overlook this, but having a will makes distribution of your assets conclusive after your death, which can protect your family from conflict and in-fighting over how to split your assets.
What if I die without writing a will?
Your assets will be distributed according to Singapore’s laws of intestate succession.
According to these rules, your spouse gets everything if you are married without kids. If you are married with kids, your spouse gets 50%, while your children split the other 50% equally.
The rules go on to explain what will happen in other scenarios, depending on what surviving family members you have after your death. For instance, if you have no spouse, children or parents, your siblings may inherit your assets in equal portions or, if they are deceased their children can inherit them in their place.
Finally, if you have no surviving spouse, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, uncles or aunts, the government gets all your assets.
Dying without a will also means that there is no chance that any of your assets will go to friends, acquaintances or charities.
Have you written a will? Tell us why or why not in the comments!