Testator, Beneficiary and Executor
6. Who is a beneficiary of a Will?
7. What happens if a beneficiary dies before me (the testator)?
8. Who is executor of a Will?
9. Who should be executor of a Will?
10. What are the duties of an executor?
12. How to write a Will? Do I need a lawyer?
1. What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that sets out the testator’s final wishes after his death. It mainly contains instructions from the testator about what happens to his assets and property after he dies. However, a Will can also be used for other purposes like appointing a guardian for the testator’s minor children, specifying funeral wishes etc.
2. What is the difference between a “Will” and a “Last Will and Testament”?
Both refer to the same document prepared by a testator containing instructions about handling his assets and dependents after his death. A “Will” is a term commonly used to refer to a “Last Will and Testament”. The term “Last Will and Testament” is more frequently used in a legal context and in legal documents. For the purposes of this FAQ, we will use the term “Will” when referring to this document.
3. Why should I make a Will?
Making a Will is very important because it gives you power to decide what happens to your property and assets after you die. You can also decide to appoint a person you trust as your executor to help manage your assets in a proper way according to your wishes.
If you have young children, making a Will helps specify how you would like for them to be taken care of. If your children are adults, your Will can stipulate exactly how much of your assets you wish to leave to each child. This is very important because clear instructions will help reduce conflict among your loved ones and relatives after your passing. Surely you would not wish for your loved ones to battle over your assets and weaken your family ties.
If you would like to donate some of your assets to charitable organisations, making a Will can help you with that too. In short, making a Will helps you control who gets your property after your death and ensures that your instructions are carried out correctly.
Also, if you do not make a Will, the laws of intestate succession Will apply. In Singapore, the Intestate Succession Act sets out fixed rules of what Will happen to your assets (“intestacy rules”) after you die. If you were domiciled in another country at the time of your death, the intestacy rules of that country might apply. According to the Intestate Succession Act, everything you leave behind Will go to your next-of-kin. Your husband/wife and children qualify as your next of kin, and so do your blood relatives if you are unmarried. These rules might not be desirable for you because:
· If you are married, your whole estate might go to your husband and wife and your parents may get nothing.
· If you are not married and you have no relatives, children or next-of-kins, your entire estate might go to the Government.
· If you have minor children, the court will appoint a guardian to take care of them until they are 21. This guardian may not be someone you trust or want to bring up your children.
· A personal representative will be chosen to take charge of your estate. They may not be the people you would choose if you had a chance to select.
The list goes on. As you can see, it is vital to control how you would like things to turn out after your death instead of leaving everything to chance.
4. Who can make a Will?
Anyone above the age of 21 and is of sound mind can write a Will. However if you are in a high-risk profession – e.g. soldier in the military or mariner at sea—you can make a Will even before you turn 21.
5. How to write a Will? Do I need a lawyer?
In Singapore, anyone above the age of 21 and is of sound mind can write his own Will. Our service is specially designed to help you write your own legally enforceable Will easily without you getting lost in legal jargon. You simply have to fill in a form specifying your details and we will generate the completed Will for you at a much lower cost than if you engaged a lawyer.
However, you should definitely still seek legal advice if you require any further clarifications or answers to your questions – SingaporeLawDocs is not a law firm or a substitute for a law firm. We do not provide any legal advice or participate in any legal representation.
6. Who is a testator in a Will?
A testator is someone who makes a Last Will and Testament. A testatrix is a female testator. In Singapore, anyone above the age of 21 and is of sound mind can be a testator or a testatrix.
7. Who is a beneficiary of a Will?
A beneficiary is a person or organisation (e.g. charity) who benefits from or inherits under your Will.
8. What happens if a beneficiary dies before me (the testator)?
You can choose to elect an alternative beneficiary to prevent the gift from failing if one beneficiary dies before you. Our service allows you to alter your Will anytime after the date of purchase – you can either edit it yourself to change the beneficiary (remember to get the witnesses to sign on the new copy!) or email us and we will do it for you at a nominal fee.
If you do not review your Will and your beneficiary predeceases you, the bequest fails and is included in the balance or residue of your estate.
9. Who is executor of a Will?
An executor of a Will is someone who is responsible for executing the testator’s Will, i.e. handling the testator’s affairs after his death and ensuring that his wishes are carried out according to his instructions. This can be a tedious and difficult task that takes many years to complete. Hence, you should always obtain the consent of the executor before appointing him or her to help administer your estate after your death because an executor can refuse to execute the Will.
10. Who should be executor of a Will?
You may appoint anyone to act as your executor. It can be either a professional executor/trustee, or your partner, relatives, or friends. Being an executor is a lot of work and if you do decide to hire professionals, their services will come at a fee. Some examples of professional executors are law firms and trust companies such as RockWills Singapore.
You can also appoint friends and relatives to be your executors. Usually, testators will leave a token of appreciation for their executors in their Wills to thank them for administering their estates for them.
It is usually advisable to have more than one executor so they can supervise each other and ensure that your estate is managed in the best way possible. Also, if any one of your executors predecease you or pass on before they finish performing their duties, the other executor(s) can take over and ensure that your estate is still managed smoothly. It is also a possibility to appoint one professional executor to act jointly with your trusted friend/relative so your loved ones Will not have to handle complex paperwork while grieving over your passing, but can still be consulted by the professional executor before important decisions are made.
11. What are the duties of an executor?
a) Applies for probate and extracts the Grant of Probate;
b) Settles the deceased’s debts by pursuing any debts owed to the deceased or paying off debts owed by the deceased;
c) Resolves any outstanding tax liabilities of the deceased (according to section 58 of the Income Tax Act);
d) Makes funeral arrangements for the deceased and
e) Distributes the deceased’s assets to the beneficiaries or their respective guardians in accordance with the Will.
12. Can an executor of a Will be a beneficiary?
Yes, a beneficiary can also act as executor of your Will. However, it is better if the executor you appoint is not also a beneficiary because conflicts of interests might arise. For example, an executor who is also a beneficiary might prefer his own interests to that of your other beneficiaries or fail to act in the best interests of your estate. To avoid this, you can appoint other executors if one or more of your executors are also beneficiaries, so they can keep each other in check.
13. How to revoke a Will?
Most people make more than one Will in a lifetime. Changes often occur in our lives – we can acquire new property, lose our assets, have children, get married etc. In such circumstances, you can either review your old Will and make changes to it or, if there are too many changes, you may want to revoke the old Will entirely and replace it with a new one.
There are many ways you can revoke a Will. In some instances, your Will is automatically revoked – for example, getting married automatically revokes any Wills you have made prior to marriage. You can also revoke a Will by making a new Will that is entirely inconsistent with your previous one, writing a revocation to express your wishes of revoking your old Will or by physically destroying your old Will by either tearing it up completely, burning, cancelling, or obliterating it. If you choose to physical destroy it, make sure there are no copies of it lying around. If you only wish to make changes to certain sections of your Will, you can make a codicil – a codicil is a document that serves to amend, add to, explain or revoke a previously executed Will.
Our service provides a Will document containing a clause that revokes all your former Wills and codicils. Hence if you make a new Will using this template (insert link to our template), all your former Wills are effectively revoked.
14. Register a Will
In Singapore, it is not necessary to register a Will in order for it to be valid. However, if you wish to do so, you can submit information on your Will or deposit it a copy of it at the Wills Registry, Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office (Singapore) by paying S$50. This can also be done online by logging in to www.iptoonline.gov.sg, and instructions can be found here.
15. Make your Will known
It is very important for your family and executors to know that you have a Will and where you have kept it. If you do not wish for them to read it, you can pass a copy of it to your executor or someone you trust and let your family know the name and address of the person you have passed your Will to. To further simplify the probate process, you could deposit a copy of your Will or submit information about it at the Wills Registry, Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office (Singapore) by paying $50. This can also be done online by logging in to www.iptoonline.gov.sg, and instructions can be found here.
16. Can I make a CPF nomination in my Will?
A Will does not cover distribution of CPF funds after your death. You should always make a CPF nomination through the proper channels at any CPF Service Centres or by filling in the CPF Nomination form. More information can be found here. Your CPF Nomination will take effect regardless of what you write in your Will.
However, if you fail to make a CPF Nomination, your CPF funds will be distributed by the Public Trustee in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act or in the case of Muslims, the Certificate of Inheritance.
Please also note that if you get married after making a CPF Nomination, your nomination will automatically be cancelled and you must make a new nomination.