Planning - a sign of successful people
One key attribute of successful people is that they make plans: they don't just leave life to chance, and hope that things will turn out well. Making good plans means thinking of other possibilities. You may plan for events to turn out one way, but would you be prepared when they turn out differently?
One of the most important areas of planning is what we do for our families. After all, they are the ones who are closest to us: our joy in good times and our greatest resource in times of difficulty.
You would want your family to have the best that you can afford. Each generation often wants to provide for its children better than their parents ever provided for them: good opportunities, the best education for your children, new challenges, financial security, proper care, or a future with promise.
Making a Will
Making a Will is being responsible to your loved ones and next-of-kin. It is also about you being in control to ensure that your children and dependants will be taken care of. A Will helps you to ensure your assets and property are divided as you had wished and distributed according to your desire.
However, if no one knows your wishes, and no one else has a full idea of what you own, for e.g. what bank accounts and property you have, and where the documents are, how can you be sure that your families will be able to access the money and assets you have earned and that no barriers will be put in their way?
That's why a key part of any personal planning and financial planning is to make a Will. It is essential for a family's breadwinner to have a full statement of all that the individual owns and a list of all that the person is responsible for.
A Will is not just about money; it's about love, care and being fair to your family.
What happens if a Will is not made made?
If you have not prepared a Will, there is the problem of intestacy, of dying intestate. When this happens, the law of the country takes over. In Singapore, this means the Intestate Succession Act. An administrator comes into the picture to facilitate the distribution of the assets.
Under the Intestate Succession Act, the asset will be distributed according to the Rules for Distribution:
It often takes between 6 months to a couple of years to process. It can also be expensive, and it may go against your wishes. While these decisions are being made, your family may not be able to gain access to any money or property that they need. Moreover, your family may need to bear unnecessary legal costs.
Without a Will, your plans and dreams of a good future for your family may be threatened and your loved ones may be put through unnecessary hardship.
What can I include ?
You can state who should inherit different parts of your Estate; you can decide what proportions each should receive, and at what age they should receive. If you plan to include young children, you may not want them to receive money until they are mature enough to handle it.
You can distribute cash, property, shares, jewellery, vehicles, almost anything through your Will. You can appoint one or more Executors to carry out your wishes. They can be people who benefit from the Will - members of your family or someone you trust. The decision is yours.
You can extend the range of people you want to give to: you may include those outside your family, including god-children or your friends. You may nominate your favorite charities too.
Your decisions can include any special wishes you may have for your own funeral. This can be an important matter where an individual has chosen a particular religion, which may be different from the beliefs of other members in the family.
For all above, the situations where there is a Will is clear. A lot of the planned future can continue. Without it, there is often confusion.
What happens if my situation changes?
A Will is not fixed for all time. It can be changed, either by adding a codicil or by drafting a new Will. You should revise your Will whenever necessary. People buy and sell property; they may start or end their businesses; there may be marriages and divorces; children are born and other dependents may arise.
You should check your Will regularly and update when necessary. There are other reasons that you might want to change a Will: if you don't think the appointed executor is suitable for some reason, if one of your beneficiaries dies, or if you change your name, or if someone else changes theirs.
You should also note that Wills made before marriage will no longer be legally valid after marriage unless it was made in contemplation of the marriage. If it was not, then a new Will must be made when you marry or remarry.
In all of these matters of preparing a Will and changing its contents, it may be necessary for you to seek professional advice to make sure what is written is accurate and legally acceptable.
Who can help me write a Will?
Lawyers provide services in preparing Wills. There are also companies offering Will-drafting services.
I've made my Will, what else should I do?
One important thing you must do is to ensure that those close to you know about it. Having a Will that no one knows about, or no one can find, makes the whole exercise pointless. Make sure that the executors and the people close to you know their roles and where to locate the Will.
Once your Will has been prepared, you can lodge particulars of your Will at the Wills Registry at the Public Trustee Department. This way, if anyone wishes to confirm whether you have made a Will, they can do a search at the Registry.
Disclaimer: This article is intended for general information and may not cover all aspects of Will. It is not meant to render legal advice. Readers should seek a lawyer for legal advice should they have any doubt in matters related to Will.
This content is not applicable to Muslim readers. The information is correct at the time of publication. Manulife shall not be liable to any person or entity with respect to any loss or damages caused by the information.
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