Sunday, 10 September 2017

Widower runs into problems with CPF over will

Mr Lim Yew Seng, 59, is facing a problem with the distribution of his late wife's CPF savings

Anyone can draft a will for themselves in Singapore, as long as they meet a list of criteria.

A will is a legal document containing instructions for the distribution of one’s assets upon death. Without a will, the distribution of your assets will be handled by the state. Hence, a will ensures that any special wishes you have will be carried out without any confusion or disputes within your family.

However, there are a few key points to note for your will to be respected by the law:

Register your will with the Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office
  • Depositing information about your will to the Wills Registry, maintained by the Public Trustee, makes it easier to establish its validity. While the registry does not record the actual contents of your will, testators or the appointed lawyers can submit details such as the location and date of the will.
Write a new will after marriage
  • Your will is automatically revoked upon marriage, unless its contents already takes marriage into consideration. This is because the law assumes that you would want to provide for your new family, which is why you should re-indicate who you would like your assets to go to.
  • On the other hand, divorce does not render a previous will invalid. Thus, you should also make a new will after divorce to ensure that your assets bequeathed to your ex-spouse will be distributed according to your current wishes.
Not all assets can be included in your will
  • Firstly, properties held in joint tenancy are not part of your estate. Upon death, they will be passed on to the surviving co-owners. This is known as the right of survivorship. You can only include your share of the property in the will if you are under the tenancy-in-common scheme.
  • Similarly, money from joint savings accounts will be transferred to the surviving account co-holders.
  • Insurance policies with a nominated beneficiary also cannot be included in a will.
  • Likewise, savings from your Central Provident Fund (CPF) are not covered in a will. If you want to indicate how to distribute your CPF savings, you have to make a nomination. A CPF nomination allows you to specify who will receive the savings upon your demise, and how much each nominee should receive.
  • Without a CPF nomination, your CPF savings will be distributed by the Public Trustee’s Office (PTO) under the Intestate Succession Act or the Certificate of Inheritance (for Muslims).

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