At PKWA Law, we frequently come across these commonly asked questions about wills in Singapore. Here are some things you should know about wills in Singapore.
Wills (Frequently Asked Questions)
How to find out if you are a beneficiary of a Will
You will not know if you have been named as a beneficiary of a Will unless the person making the Will has informed you about his/her decision. As such, the responsibility is on the executor of the Will to inform all the beneficiaries that they hold such rights under the Will or pursuant to the intestacy rules contained in the Intestate Succession Act.
Though Singapore has a Wills Registry, it is important to note that the Wills Registry does not keep the original version or a copy of the Will. The Wills Registry only keeps a record of the details of the person making the Will (i.e testator) and of the person who prepared the Will (e.g. lawyer), the date the Will was made, and details of where the Will is held.
Do the beneficiaries of my Will need to be Singaporean?
The beneficiaries of your Will need not be Singaporean. However, it is important to indicate the passport number or local identification number of the non-Singaporean beneficiary in your Will, in order for the executor to identify and locate him/her. Such non-Singaporean beneficiaries may also include international charities or permanent residents in Singapore.
However, prior to bequeathing your assets to non-Singaporean beneficiaries, it is crucial to first consider if there are any restrictions or regulations that Will affect the transfer of certain types of properties, such as HDB flats in Singapore to such beneficiaries.
What should you expect as a beneficiary of a Will?
As a beneficiary of a Will, you will first be notified of the existence of a Will by the executor. You are entitled to know the contents of the Will and shall also receive the deceased’s assets as per stated in the Will or according to the intestacy rules contained in the Intestate Succession Act.
Additionally, as a beneficiary, you are entitled to know how the estate is being managed by the executor of the Will and you have a right to sue the executor if you feel that the said executor is not fulfilling his duties in a proper manner.
What rights do the spouse and/or child of the deceased have?
If the deceased died leaving behind a Will, his/her assets will be distributed in accordance with the Will. Nevertheless, the Court has the power under Section 3 of the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act to order payment out of the net estate of the deceased for the benefit of the surviving spouse or child if the Court is of the opinion that no reasonable provision for the maintenance of the surviving spouse and child has been made.
If the deceased died without a Will, his/her assets will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy. Section 7 of the Intestate Succession Act provides that the child and the spouse of the deceased will be entitled to the deceased’s estate. This means that it does not matter if the deceased was not on good terms with his/her spouse and child.
Will my ex-spouse have any claim to my estate?
Ex-spouses do not have a claim to the deceased’s estate. However, if you have appointed your ex-spouse to be the guardian for the surviving children in the Will, he/she shall be entitled to claim part of the estate for the welfare and upbringing of the children.
It is important to note that while a person’s Will is invalidated upon his/her marriage, a Will will not be revoked after a divorce. Additionally, in the event of ongoing divorce proceedings which have not been finalised at the time of a person’s death, his/her spouse shall be entitled to his/her rights under the Will or pursuant to the intestacy rules contained in the Intestate Succession Act.
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