After working in this field for so many years, one of the most frequent questions that had been posed to me is whether lawyers are our competitors? On the contrary, the lawyer in practice is very much part of our business eco-system. Many lawyers are our close working partners and there is mutual respect. Many of us at Precepts have legal backgrounds or were legal practitioners in the past.
To illustrate the connection, we frequently receive referrals from lawyers for Will writing, custody, Trust businesses and executor appointments. On the other hand, we have also appointed numerous lawyers to represent us in many applications for Grant of Representation, attending to conveyancing matters, acting as our counsel in litigation, preparation of documents such as Business Transfers and Family Agreements etc.
Precepts is a one-stop service for estate planning. First, we provide Will writing services. The drafting of the Will clauses stem from our varied experiences in real cases and in handling more than 12,000 Will assignments covering practically all kinds of scenarios that could be imagined! In this regard, the testimony to the robustness of our system is that to date, all our Wills that are probated in the courts have all been validated.
Secondly, in handling Wills business day in and out, we understand all aspects of the legal intricacies involved in Will making. We recall one situation when the Will, which was not prepared by Precepts, had omitted the appointment of the executor. As an afterthought, the name of the executor was handwritten by the testator into the Will after the signatures of the testator and her two witnesses. The question then begs whether the Will was still valid! The beneficiaries were indeed anxious when they came to see us.
In fact, this Will was still a valid Will, but there was a failure of executor appointment. Thus, the beneficiaries had to apply for Letters of Administration with Will Annexed instead of the usual Grant of Probate. This process took a longer time and was therefore more costly but the beneficiaries were much relieved in having approached us to seek assistance.
Besides Will writing, Precepts can be appointed as the executor/ administrator for estate administration. There was another case where the client appointed us as the substitute executor for the Will. Some family members who were not the beneficiaries named in the Will took steps to challenge the validity of the Will. The main executor renounced his rights as the executor under duress from his other family members. Precepts, as the substitute executor took over the role of the main executor. Subsequently, we were able to obtain the Grant of Probate.
In another case where Precepts was not appointed as the executor for the Will, both the main and the substitute executors renounced their rights as the executors after they were threatened by a family member. However, Precepts could not intervene because we were not appointed as the executor. Hence, it is important to choose a right person or even a Trust Company to act as your executor so that your wishes can be carried out and fulfilled on your demise.
Trusteeship is also one of our core areas of business. If you want to delay any distributions to your beneficiary(ies) or if you have any elderly or minor children or a special child to take care of, then you should set up a Trust for their benefit. The next question you should be concerned with is whether your individual trustee is able to administer such a Trust?
In one case, the individual trustee did not open a specific trust account for the Trust fund that she was holding for her sister’s children. It was probably because of her lack of understanding of her responsibilities as trustee or simply for her own convenience. Upon the demise of this individual trustee, the Trust payments to her sister’s children were disrupted and, the family members of the individual trustee were not able to segregate the said Trust fund from her personal monies because she had never prepared any account statements of the Trust fund. As a result, the children suffered unnecessary financial stress. This case proves once again that your choice of trustee is of utmost importance to ensure the continuity of the trust funds for your loved ones.
Another area of our key services is the Custody of Wills. We have encountered many people who cannot locate their deceased family member’s Will after the member’s demise or they cannot locate the details of the assets left behind by their deceased family member. Hence, Precepts can help by keeping your original Will as well as to maintain confidentiality of your Will until your demise. Upon your passing, the original Will is then released to the main executor(s) as named in your Will. Meanwhile, our Personal Assets Inventory Booklet (PAIB) is always available for you at no cost, if you have purchased our Lifetime Custody or Exclusive Lifetime Custody, for you to list down your assets details confidentially and have them kept together with your original Will. This PAIB will expedite the estate administration process and ease the burden of your family members in having to locate your assets.