Many people put off writing their Will until it is too late, thinking that it is too complex or expensive or that it requires them to list all of their possessions. Often, we meet people who think that they need to have a comprehensive checklist of everything that they have before they can begin the process of writing their Wills. This is not true.
The Will requires you to decide on:
1. Your choice of Executor. Your Executor is the person who carries out the instructions you leave behind in your Will. Your Executor deals with the procedural steps (getting the Grant of Probate, closing your bank accounts, claiming your insurance policies, dealing with your shares and investments, sorting out your valuables, etc) and ultimately distributes your estate based on your Will. It is strongly recommended that you should have at least two Executors, whether as joint executors or as primary and alternate executors – this is to prepare for the possibility that one of the executors is unable to carry out the responsibilities of executor due to death, injury, illness or refusal. Executors can be your beneficiaries but must be over the age of 21 and cannot be bankrupts.
2. Your choice of Guardian (if applicable). If you have children who are under the age of 21, you should consider appointing a Guardian for your children. Generally, a Guardian steps in to take over the parental role when both parents are not in the picture (i.e. your spouse and you have passed away, either together or one after the other) and the children are still under the age of 21 and not considered to be adults. This is particularly important for divorcees, especially if you currently have care and control of your child and want to ensure that your child continues to be cared for by someone you trust instead of your ex-spouse. Guardians are primarily responsible for the day-to-day care and upbringing of your children and will get to make important decisions for your child (e.g. where they will live, where they will study, if they are allowed to study overseas, etc). Guardians may also be the custodian of your children’s inheritance in the absence of a trust (mentioned later).
3. Your choice of a Trustee (if applicable). When you intend to give a portion of your estate to your beneficiaries, you may decide to give your beneficiaries money over a period of time instead of a lump-sum payout. This is useful when you have concerns about the financial maturity of your beneficiary and ensures that the inheritance will not be quickly wasted. To do that, you create a simple trust where the money meant for your beneficiary is managed by your Trustee. The money is then used according to the instructions you leave with your Trustee e.g. the money is allowed to be used for the beneficiary’s education, medical expenses, allowance of $X dollars/mth etc. You then decide on when the money should be given to the beneficiary e.g. 100% at 21 years old, 50% at 21 and balance at 25, etc.
Typically, many people may consider creating a trust for their young children (in the event they inherit) and/or parents (if you have concerns that your elderly parents may be conned of a lump sum inheritance).
4. Your preferred division of your estate. You decide on who you want to inherit your estate. You can choose to distribute among your family members in proportion, in fixed sums or even give specific items to specific members e.g. jewelry to daughter, car to son, etc. You can also decide on having layers of beneficiaries e.g. everything to my spouse, if spouse should pass away together, then everything to be divided among the children, etc. Certain assets are handled differently because of prevailing laws governing that class of assets (e.g. property, CPF, insurance policies, joint accounts, etc) so you should be aware that you may need to make alternative plans for these assets.
At Bequest, we listen to your needs in order to provide you with professional guidance on crafting your legacy. We have designed our will-writing service to give you a valid will of the highest quality, with the least amount of hassle, at an affordable price.
We strongly believe in understanding your situation fully before advising you on the different options that you might want to include in your will based on your specific needs. We do not believe in one-size-fits-all templated wills and we have the proper skills and expertise to customise a Will that applies exactly to your situation. With Bequest, you can enjoy peace of mind knowing that your will has been drafted and thoroughly reviewed by our dedicated professionals.
Remember, it is never too early, but all too often left too late.