The below are not exhaustive and are for general information only. Please consult us for specific advice.
1. What is a Will?
A Will is a written document that sets how your assets and monies (“the Estate”) will be distributed according to your wishes after you pass on.
It can be changed at any time by a subsequent Will or a Codicil (i.e. an Addendum to the existing Will) during your lifetime.
2. When does a Will come into force?
A Will takes effect after your demise (death). With a Will, your Legal Representative (i.e. the Trustee/ Executor) may then apply for a Grant of Probate. Without a Will, your Legal Representative will have to apply for a Letter of Administration. Typically, a Letter of Administration takes longer to be obtained, as compared with a Grant of Probate.
3. What are the formal requirements for a Will to be valid?
A Will has to be in writing.
The signing of the Will is to be in the presence of at least two (2) witnesses (who cannot be the beneficiaries) and to be signed at the foot of every page of the Will. The signing for all three (3) persons (i.e you and the witnesses) has to be carried out at the same time.
4. Who can have a Will prepared?
As long as you are 21 years old and above and mentally sound, you can have a Will made.
Only soldier being in actual military service, or any mariner or seamen at sea, may do so even though they are under the age of 21 years.
5. Who are the various parties in a Will?
The Testator (i.e. you) will be the person making the Will.
The Trustee/ Executor will be the person in charge of distributing your assets according to your Will.
The Beneficiary will be the person whom you (i.e. the Testator) want to distribute your assets to. You can have as many beneficiaries as you wish.
The Witnesses will be attesting to the signing of the Will. A minimum of two (2) Witnesses are required.
6. Who are disqualified from witnessing a Will?
Any beneficiary named in the Will, otherwise a gift to such a person will fail. There may also be unnecessary disputes.
7. Why should I make a Will?
A Will states who you want your assets to be distributed to, otherwise your assets will be distributed through the Intestate Succession Act or in accordance with the law of the country in which you are domiciled at the time of your demise (death).
A Will assists with procedural facilitation in handing over your assets to your intended beneficiaries. Substantive reasons include the preservation of wealth and provision of guardianship for infants and dependents.
8. Who should choose not to make a will?
Unless you are below 21 years old or of unsound mind, there is no reason why you should choose not to make a will. We say it is irresponsible to delay making a will.
9. What can I include in my Will?
Both immovable and movable assets. Immovable assets include your properties such as landed properties, condominium and HDB flats. Movable assets include your car, monies in bank accounts, shares of companies and jewellery etc.
You cannot will away your CPF monies (this has to be separated provided for in the CPF nomination form) and property under joint tenancies (unless it is to the other joint tenant).
10. Do I need to state all the details of my Assets in my Will?
It is not necessary to list all your assets unless you are making specific gifts to certain beneficiaries.
However, it is good practice to have an Inventory List of Assets and Liabilities so that your Trustee/ Executor will know what your Assets comprise of. It is also helpful to list all your insurance policies and details for ease of administering your Will.
11. Do I need a lawyer to prepare my Will?
Not strictly so. You can make your own Will as long as you are 21 years old and above and of sound mental health.
However, there are various statutory requirements to comply with to ensure that the Will is valid. It is therefore in your best interest to consult a lawyer or a professional Will writing company. The cost is low as compared with potential risks that can occur. It is also for peace of mind.
12. What is the effect of marriage on a Will?
A Will is deemed revoked or cancelled upon marriage (unless the Will is expressed to be made in contemplation of marriage).
13. What happens if my spouse and I were to pass on at the same time?
The older person is deemed to have died before the younger one.
Should both of you have a Will, the assets will be distributed to the younger one as beneficiary and thereafter will be distributed as part of the younger one’s assets. If there is a Will, distribution will be in accordance with the Will. If there is no Will, the Intestate Succession Act will apply.
14. What happens if a person were to pass on without a will?
His or her assets will be distributed in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act.
By way of illustration (not exhaustive),
a) If a person dies single, his/ her assets will be distributed to his/ her parents equally.
b) If a person dies leaving his/ her spouse and children, 50% of his/ her assets will be distributed to the spouse and the balance equally among the children.
c) If a person dies leaving his/ her spouse with no children, 50% of his/ her assets will be distributed to the spouse and the balance equally among the parents (but not the parents-in-law).
15. Do I have to register my Will?
The Public Trustee maintains a Wills Registry. It is not necessary to register your Will with the Wills Registry.
However, if you wish, you can submit online at the Public Trustee website to record that you have made a Will. The details of the Will are not recorded, only the fact that you have made a Will as well as the date of the Will. The Wills Registry does not keep a copy of your Will.
The purpose of registration is to assist your family members. They will know if you have made a Will when they conduct a search with the Wills Registry.
16. What are the costs of making a Will?
At Wills & Wills, we charge S$500.00 for a simple Will (including attendance as witnesses to the Will).
Your will is considered a "simple Will" if our will writing form covers all your requirements.
For complex Wills, the charges start from S$2,000.00 onwards. Depending on complexity, we will be happy to discuss further to understand your individual requirements.