Anybody in Singapore can write a will. You, me, Lee Kuan Yew, just to name a few people.
In fact, you don’t need a lawyer. You can write it with a pen. And you don’t even need to be steeped in legalese to do it.
What is a will?
A will gives specific instructions for the distribution of your assets. It is a legal document.
It must be committed to writing.
What do experts think of will-making?
Experts recommend that wills be registered with the Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office (IPTO).
If you do not have a will, the state can direct the distribution of your assets according to the Intestate Succession Act.
How old must the will maker be?
The person writing the will must be at least 21 years old.
What are the requirements for the will to be valid?
The person writing the will must sign the will at the foot of the will.
If he/ she is unable to do so, he/ she may allow another person to sign it in his presence.
A will must be witnessed by two or more witnesses, and they must also sign the will in the presence of the person who is making the will.
The two main witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the will, or spouse of the person making the will. However, a beneficiary can be a third witness.
In Singapore, wills are governed by the Wills Act.
Should I seek legal advice for writing my will?
It is recommended because of the onerous procedures involved. If a family’s dynamics is complex, for example, due to changing relationship statuses or the accumulation of more wealth over the years, the process can be long-drawn and not straightforward.
For the majority, it should be about deciding on the correct proportion of assets to be distributed to the people who are left behind.
Before any inheritance can be divided up, there is also a need to pay off debt.
There might also be a need to state conditions in the will before assets can be distributed. There is also a need to appoint an executor for the will to carry out the instructions after the will-maker’s death.
How much does it cost to write a will?
A will can be written for as little as S$200 to S$300, or more, especially if you are using a will writer or lawyer. Cost differs according to the complexity of the document.
Regardless, it is a small sum compared with what families spend on lawsuits over a disputed inheritance.
Where can I look for non-lawyers to write my will?
There are plenty of will-writing services available in Singapore. Service providers include NTUC Income and select insurance companies. Insurance agents can discuss will-making as part of a financial plan. However, these services are not allowed to give professional legal advice.
So should I stick to lawyers?
As the market is getting competitive, lawyers offering to write wills have sprung up and they are becoming affordable. Affordability is dependent on seeking different price quotes and doing your due diligence as a consumer beforehand.
What other benefits are there to get a lawyer’s help?
Engaging a lawyer will have the benefit of making the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) at the same time.
Lawyers are able to act as the certificate issuer of the LPA, a legal document that allows one to voluntarily appoint one or more persons to make decisions and act on his behalf in the event of a loss of mental capacity. The LPA complements the will.
It is common for people to make both the will and LPA.
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