Ultimate Guide to Writing Your Will
Writing a Will is important, not just for the old or the wealthy, but for everyone, especially if you have family and loved ones that you will be leaving behind. Whether you are a young adult who is just starting to build your career, a proud parent, or already enjoying the fruits of retirement, writing a Will is something that you should be thinking about.
What Is A Will And What Can It Do?
The word “Will” is often associated with death, and for older generations, invokes feelings of inauspiciousness. Many prefer not to think about it, or to keep it at the back of their minds, only thinking about it when something untoward happens, by which time it may be too late.
So, what exactly is a Will and what can a Will do for you? A Will is a legal document that allows you to make arrangements during your lifetime, ensuring that your assets are distributed to your loved ones according to your wishes upon your demise. A Will also allows you to appoint testamentary guardians for your children (i.e. below 21 years of age), in the event both you and your spouse pass away.
In your Will, you can also stipulate certain conditions for the management and distribution of your assets – for instance, you can set up a trust for your children, to be managed by a trustee until your children are old enough to manage the funds themselves. You can also choose substitute beneficiaries in case any of your chosen beneficiaries pass away before you.
Why Is It Important To Make A Will?
Here are a couple of reasons why you should make a Will:
(i) You Get To Decide How Your Estate Is To Be Distributed
With a Will, you get to decide who does and does not inherit from your Estate and in what proportions. You will also be able to decide who you wish to appoint to execute your Will according to your intentions (ie. the executor).
Without a Will, all your assets will be distributed in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act, which dictates who the beneficiaries will be, and specifies how much of your Estate they will receive. For instance, under the Intestate Succession Act, if you leave behind a spouse and children, half your Estate will go to your spouse and the other half will be divided equally amongst your children. You can only change how this is distributed using a Will.
(ii) You Can Appoint A Guardian For Your Children
With a Will, you can appoint guardians for any children under 21 years that you leave behind. This ensures that there will always be a trusted person to care for your children, even if you are no longer around.
(iii) You Can Decide Who Will Handle Your Estate According To Your Will
With a Will, you can appoint an executor or joint executors who will be responsible for ensuring that your Estate is distributed or taken care of according to your wishes, upon your demise. This is important as, having worked hard and saved throughout your life, you would want someone you trust to take charge of and distribute your assets as you desire after you’re gone.
Without a Will, the State will appoint an administrator (usually your spouse or next-of-kin) to take control of your Estate and distribute it according to the Intestate Succession Act. The administrator may not necessarily be someone you would have chosen to carry out your wishes. Therefore, it is wise to use a Will so that you can choose a trusted person as your executor to carry out your wishes.
(iv) Make Funeral Arrangements
You can use a Will to describe the funeral arrangements you want for yourself. This is especially important in Singapore, which is a multi-cultural and multi-religious society. Members of the same family may sometimes have different religions or cultural practices.
(v) Exclusions From Your Will
You may have read, heard, or seen news reports of how people excluding certain family members from inheriting parts of their Estate for various reasons.
If you wish to do something similar, having a Will allows you to exclude certain family members from receiving any gifts of your Estate. For example, if you have an estranged family member who has not been in contact for many years, you may not want him to inherit any assets from your Estate, and you can use a Will to exclude him from inheriting your assets.
(vi) Saving Legal Costs And Time Required To Obtain The Court Order
|WITH A WILL||WITHOUT A WILL|
|You appoint an executor to manage your Estate after you pass away.
The executor must apply to the Courts to extract a Grant of Probate. The Grant of Probate empowers the executor to distribute the Estate in accordance with the Will.
|An appropriate person must apply to the Courts to be appointed as an administrator and to obtain Letters of Administration.
The Letters of Administration empowers the administrator to distribute the Estate in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act.
|Time taken to obtain the Grant of Probate: approximately 3 to 6 months (depending on value of the Estate)||Time taken to obtain the Letters of Administration: approximately 12 months (depending on value of the Estate)|
|Legal Costs : $3.5K and above||Legal Costs : $5K and above|
When Should You Make A Will Or Think About Making One?
You do not have to be wealthy in order to benefit from a Will. So long as you have assets – whether its cash saved in the bank, jewellery, a car, property, shares, etc., it’s important to start planning how you wish to distribute your assets upon your demise.
What Are The Requirements For Making A Will?
- The Will must be in writing.
- You must specify the gifts and the beneficiaries.
- You must be at least 21 years of age.
- You must be mentally sound.
- Your Will must be witnessed in person by 2 independent witnesses who are at least 21 years of age, of sound mind, and not beneficiaries.
How Can You Get Your Will Written?
You do not actually need a lawyer to draft out your Will – you can do it on your own! But the catch is that it may not be valid if you have not followed the requirements prescribed by the law:
If the Will is not drafted carefully, there may also be unintended consequences. Because your Will crystalizes upon your death, any errors cannot be changed once you pass away. Therefore, your Will must be drafted very carefully to ensure that it properly reflects your wishes.
It’s therefore advisable to seek help from professionals who can ensure that the Will accurately conveys your wishes, and that it is valid. A good Wills lawyer or estate planning professional will also have processes in place to minimize the likelihood of successful challenges to your Will.
To have your Will drawn up, you may consult a lawyer or use Income’s Will Writing Service to assist you. You will be asked to provide essential information such as whom you wish to appoint as executor of your Estate, the names and identification details of all your beneficiaries, and the percentage distribution of your assets. You may also want to think about naming substitute beneficiaries in case any of your beneficiaries pass away before you.
The lawyer or estate planning professional will ensure that your wishes are accurately reflected in the Will, that there are no ambiguities that might cause confusion or give rise to challenges, and that the Will is valid and witnessed properly. You will thus have peace of mind that there will be no problems with your Will if you pass away unexpectedly.
Will Writing Services like Income’s offer affordable charges for making a Will. Give yourself peace of mind knowing that your loved ones will be provided for by writing a Will with Income today!