Do you know what happens to your assets when you’re gone?
A will is an important but regularly over-looked legal document that provides for the proper administration and distribution of one’s assets upon death. In Singapore, however, almost 90 percent of the population does not have a will.
Says Mindy Teo, Director of Wills and Trust Pte Ltd, “This is largely attributed to ignorance or superstition: some believe that writing a will means that their time is nearing.”
The company, set up in 2006 to write wills and trusts for the public, comprises mostly wealth planners and managers who double up as will writers for their clients; being privy to their clients’ financial status and assets.
An individual can, in fact, write his own will. But engaging a professional will writer ensures that one’s will is written as clearly and concisely as possible. “Being ‘the voice when you are no longer around’, it is important that your will caters to unforeseen circumstances, such as the passing of a beneficiary together with the benefactor, or when more complicated assets are involved,” says Teo.
The company also offers professional advice on how to plan one’s estate such that properties and assets are distributed in a tax-efficient manner upon death. The ballpark figure for writing a will is S$200 for a basic will.
To have one’s will written, the client has to be above 21 years of age, mentally sound and not be under the influence of any mind-altering drugs or medication at the time of writing his will.
The will writer will then embark on the task of probing and qualifying the client to determine his exact wishes, and more often than not, it is not a straight-forward case.
“Besides the usual consideration of appointing a guardian over under-aged beneficiaries like young children, some clients want to ensure that their parents are being cared for by their spouses in the event of their passing.
Conversely, some clients want to ensure that the assets they will to their children will not be passed to their children’s spouses, if anything should happen to the child. We help them iron out all the necessary details and transfer them onto paper.”
To demonstrate the importance of a well-written will, Teo gave the real life example of a case whereby a young man on the threshold of marriage had just come into ownership of a new property, paid for by his parents. Just after the man and his wife had been solemnized as husband and wife at the Registry of Marriages, however, he passed away in an unfortunate motorcycle accident, and all his assets, including the property, went to the new bride, leaving his parents with nothing.
The job of the will writer, therefore, is to help their clients factor in considerations such as these.
Then there are the deathbed cases: will writers race against the clock at odd hours to help a client do up a will within one or two days. Complications may also occur when the client is under medication at the hospital and the doctor is reluctant to allow the writer to communicate with him due to the influence of the medication.
Though her clients will not be around to thank the will writer when the will is eventually invoked, but the expression of appreciation at a well-written will is what warms Teo’s heart.
“At the end of the day, the value of a will lies in helping to keep a family intact and preserve the relationship among living family members.”
Wills & Trust
Blk 531A Upper Cross Street, #04-87
Hong Lim Complex