During this unsettling period of Covid-19 where people reflect on their preparedness during adversities and contingency plans, we should prioritise continuous care for our dependants especially the young. It is now wise to consolidate all your assets and liabilities while thinking of how they could be best utilised in the unfortunate event of a passing. Besides monies in bank accounts, also include insurance policies, Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies, properties, company shares etc.
Common considerations also include who the appointed primary guardian will be, availing funds for continuous education and, in some instances, avoiding the undue influence of others. These factors underline the importance of a valid Will to take care of your dependants.
Having a Will also reduces the time and effort for beneficiaries to receive inheritance with less documents required, especially for cases involving minors where the Court will require 2 administrators to act together. This could make a significant difference to families in times of distraught.
Delaying or staggering inheritance often makes better sense as many families will not want their young children to get large sums of inheritance (from insurance payouts, from property titles etc) at the age of 21 years old. Are there behavioural and character consequences in this?
When dealing with minors, appointing a guardian to look after them becomes important. Should the appointed testamentary guardian not reside in Singapore, a temporary guardian such as god parents can be appointed in the meantime. There should also be a named substitute guardian in the event the appointed guardian is unable to fulfil the responsibilities.
A Will, boosted with a Testamentary Trust, can also look into ensuring periodic pay-outs of funds for a continuous stream of cashflow to care for dependents. It is advisable for parents to inform the prospective guardian in advance and brief them about their responsibilities and check if the guardian’s family members are ready to accept their minor child(ren) to be part of their family.
A Will should be written or reviewed whenever there are changes to intentions, to nuclear family such as possible marriage status or major changes to family assets or liabilities.
Important considerations when appointing your spouse as an Executor or Trustee:
- Spouse may be mentally unprepared for the loss and not being financially savvy.
- Becoming a single parent, apart from daily responsibilities, he or she also needs to attend to various affairs and juggle between holding a job and parenting duties.
- Elderly spouse who is ill-informed or may not be physically fit to make visits to several financial and government institutions to get things done.
- Tense relationships with in-law’s family members and other beneficiaries.
- No checks and balances to ensure it is carried out without undue influence.