You may have to wait till you’re 35 till you can buy an HDB flat as a single, but that doesn’t mean you need to wait to write a will.
Ideally, you should write a will the minute your net worth starts to rise over zero. That is, hopefully, not long after you start working.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: you have no intention of dying anytime soon, so why the rush?
Well, here are five reasons you should write a will even if you’re not remotely old and still very much alive.
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 will 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 will doesn’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 kid.
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 you have not bothered to get officially divorced, beware that they will still get all 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.
Have you written a will before? Tell us in the comments!