The DIY Guide to Drafting Your Own Will in Singapore

drafting your own will singapore

Introduction


Don’t let anybody else tell you otherwise. You can write a will yourself for free in Singapore. Under Singapore law, there is no need to hire anyone to draft your will in Singapore. Not a lawyer. Not a will-drafting company. Not anyone.

You can write a perfectly valid will yourself and if you do everything right, it will hold up in a Singapore court when your executor applies for a grant of probate.

Whether it’s a good idea to do is always a matter of debate. Lawyers and will-drafting companies will usually tell you that you can easily mess things up if you’re not familiar with the law. Most lawyers will probably even advise you against using a will-drafting company because these companies may be less familiar with the law!

Naturally, the more cynical of you will undoubtedly think that it’s only natural that these lawyers and will-drafting companies would take this stand. After all, drafting wills is a service they offer, and in extreme cases, they do make it seem like it’s next to impossible to draft your own will!

As mentioned earlier, this definitely isn’t the case. You can write you own will in Singapore. However, while it isn’t rocket science, there is quite a large amount of material to digest and implement, and to be fully conversant with all the different issues that can pop up can take many months or years.

This is one of the primary reasons why we lean towards the side of hiring a wills lawyer in Singapore to draft your will. There is the possibility of having things turn out very badly if your will is drafted incorrectly.

That said, if you’d like to try your hand at drafting your own will, we’ve compiled this DIY guide to help you do so. Please note that this guide only applies to Singaporeans who are not Muslim. Muslim inheritance law, Farā’id is subject to a different set of rules when it comes to inheritance.

If you'd like to hire an affordable, vetted Singapore lawyer experienced in Muslim Inheritance Law to draft a Muslim will for you, get in touch with us here.

Disclaimer: While we have taken great, great pains to make sure this guide is accurate and up to date, we take no responsibilities for any inaccuracies within. You use this information at your own risk.

What Constitutes A Valid Will in Singapore?


The requirements to make a valid will in Singapore isn’t all that stringent. Currently, under the Wills Act, for a will to be valid, it needs to be:

  • made by a person above the age of 21 (unless you are in active military service, a mariner or a seaman at sea);
  • signed at the foot or end of the will by the testator. (The testator is the person creating the will. Click here to find out more about Wills and Probate terms in our Glossary.);
  • this signature has to be made (or acknowledged to be made) in the presence of two or more witnesses; and
  • these witnesses have to be present at the same time.

The testator must also have testamentary capacity (be of sound mind) when signing the will. To this end, it is necessary to prove that you are not senile or mentally affected in any way. While some lawyers think this step isn’t absolutely necessary, you can consider making a visit to a doctor just before you draft your will and obtain a letter stating that you’re of sound mind (to avoid challenges to your will in the future after you pass on).

Also, just because a will is valid in Singapore does not necessarily mean that it will be distributed in accordance with your wishes. A badly drafted will can be perfectly valid but there can still be challenges to the will. Worse still, a badly drafted will might end up distributing your estate differently from what you truly intended!

 

making a will without a lawyer singapore

Can Anyone be a Witness for my Will?


Yes, anyone can be a witness for your will. However, it is preferable that your witnesses be young enough to outlive you as their role is to testify that they were there to sign the will in your presence. Your witnesses also shouldn’t be blind as they will need to visually see you signing the will.

In addition, you should find witnesses who will not be included in the will as beneficiaries. If any beneficiary or spouse of the beneficiary is a witness to the will, the will is still valid, but whatever you left for that beneficiary in your will becomes void!

If possible, to be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to find two good friends (who won’t be included in your will) to be your witnesses.

 

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  • Is Drafting your Own Will too Much of a Hassle?

    If you’d like to hire an affordable, vetted Singapore lawyer to draft a Will for you instead, get in touch with us here.

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What You Need to do Before Drafting Your Will


There are certain things you will need to do before drafting your will.

  • You will need to choose people you know (and get these people to agree) to be your executors, trustees, and if necessary, guardians of your children;
  • You will have to make a comprehensive list of all the assets in your estate that you’ve accumulated over the years. This will include personal property and immovable property in Singapore and overseas;
  • You will have to decide on the people you want to be provided for in your will – your immediate family, extended family, close friends, charitable organizations, etc;
  • You will need to decide on how to distribute your assets to these people you want to be provided for; and
  • You will need to choose 2 witnesses to witness you signing your will.

What Assets can be Distributed in Your Will


planning the distribution of your estate in your will

The Various Components of a Will in Singapore


  • The identification of the testator.
  • Revocation of previous wills.
  • Appointment of (i) Executor; (ii) Trustee; and (iii) Guardian
  • Distribution of Property
  • The Remainder of the Estate
  • Powers and directions to Executor - Trustee.
  • Testimonium and Attestation.

 

writing a will yourself free

How to Draft Your Will in Singapore


Example 1

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF JANE DOE

 

THIS IS THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT of me, JANE DOE (NRIC No: SXXXXXXXA) of 72 Meerkat Terrace, Singapore 550550.

It is generally a good idea to state and identify the document as a “LAST WILL” to avoid any doubt that the document is a will. Be sure to state your name, NRIC No., and address exactly as it is stated in your NRIC. This helps prevent any possible challenges to the identity of the testator.

1. I hereby REVOKE all my former wills and testamentary dispositions made by me and DECLARE this to be my Last Will.

If you only have assets in Singapore, this is a common clause to be included to ensure that there won’t be two or more differently worded wills being submitted for the grant of probate.

However, if you have assets outside of Singapore, you should take great care not to revoke any other wills you may have drafted specifically for those assets in other countries. It may be prudent to speak to a lawyer if your estate has many assets in different countries.

2. I further declare that I am of sound mind to make this Will and I have made the same voluntarily and not under any duress.

This is not absolutely necessary to be included but seems to be a staple in most Singapore wills nowadays.

3. I appoint my husband, JOHN DOE (NRIC No: SXXXXXXXB) also of 5 Greenacre Grove, Singapore 123987 to be the Sole Executor and Trustee of this my Will if he survives me by a period of thirty (30) days but if he fails to do so, or he is unable or unwilling to act as the Executor and Trustee of this my Will, I then Appoint my daughter, JACELYN DOE (NRIC No: SXXXXXXXB) of 9 Corner Avenue, Singapore 987789 to be my Executrix and Trustee of this will and I declare that the expression “my Trustee” in this will shall, where the context permits, include the trustee for the time being of this will whether original or substituted.

You should appoint one executor and a backup executor in the event the first executor passes on or renounces his executorship. While it is always possible to appoint two or more executors, it may end up being a little more troublesome for your executors in terms of signing documents and dealing with your estate jointly.

To find out more about what exactly is an executor, and the roles and duties of an executor, click here.

If there are no executors appointed in the will, a close family member will have to apply for Letters of Administration instead.

4. Subject to the payment of my just debts, funeral and testamentary expenses upon my demise, I hereby GIVE all my property to my TRUSTEE upon trust to do the following:

The monies in my DBS bank account (No. 99-8888-1188) are to be distributed as follows:

(i) Singapore Dollars Fifty Thousand (S$50,000) to be given to my husband, JOHN DOE, if he survives me, failing which I then give the same to my only brother, JORDAN CHAN;

(ii) Singapore Dollars Five Thousand (S$5,000) to be given to each of my children; and

(iii) The remainder to the NATIONAL KIDNEY FOUNDATION (UEN 200104750M) to be used for its general purposes.

5. To give the rest of my property absolutely to my husband, JOHN DOE, if he shall survive me by a period of thirty (30) days; but if he does not, then to my children in equal shares.

I EMPOWER my Trustee to sell for cash or upon such terms as he or she deems fit, and to call in, and convert into money, my said property at such time or times and in such manner as my Trustee shall, in his or her own absolute and uncontrolled discretion, think fit, with power to postpone such sale calling in and conversion of such property, or of such part or parts thereof for such period or periods as my Trustee shall in his own absolute and uncontrolled discretion think fit and to stand possessed of the moneys arising therefrom, together with any ready moneys forming part of my Estate, for the trusts of this my Will.

IN WITNESS whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 4th day of January, 2017.will signature

 

SIGNED by the Testator JANE DOE
as and for her last Will before both of us,
the undersigned, who in her presence
and in the presence of each other have
hereunto set our names as witnesses:

witnessing of will singapore

 

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    If you’d like to hire an affordable, vetted Singapore lawyer to draft a Will for you instead, get in touch with us here.

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Example 2

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF TAN XIAO MING

 

I, TAN XIAO MING (holder of NRIC No. SXXXXXXE) of Blk 111 Singapore Road Name Road #01-222 Singapore 222333 HEREBY REVOKE all former wills and testamentary disposition previously made by me and declare this to be my Last Will.

1. I appoint my daughter, TAN TING TING (NRIC No. SXXXXXXJ) and my son, TAN CHENG HONG (NRIC No. SXXXXXXXD) both of Blk 111 Singapore Road Name Road #01-222 Singapore 222333 to be my executors and trustees of this my Last Will (hereinafter called “my Trustees” which expression shall include the trustees of this my Will for the time being, whether original, additional or substituted).

2. Subject to the payment of my just debts, settlement of all my medical and hospitalisation expenses, funeral and testamentary expenses, I GIVE, DEVISE AND BEQUEATH all of my properties, both real and personal of whatsoever nature and wheresoever situate, to which I may own or may hereafter become entitled to, including the balance (with accrued interests) standing to the credit of my bank accounts and the net sale proceeds of my apartment at Blk 111 Singapore Road Name Road #01-222 Singapore 222333 to the following 2 beneficiaries in the shares stated as follows:-

  Name Share/Entitlement
1) My daughter, TAN TING TING 50%
2) My son, TAN CHENG HONG 50%

 

When you wish to bequeath the entirety of your estate in fixed proportions to a small number of beneficiaries, this drafting can be a convenient way of doing so.

3. In the event that any of my said beneficiaries had predeceased me at the time of my death or failed to survive me for thirty (30) days after my death, then his/her entitlement which would have passed to him/her shall be given to his/her surviving issues.

4. My Trustees shall have full power to sell any of my assets in their existing form or convert the whole or part of my estate into such other investments for so long as my Trustees shall in their absolute discretion deem fit without being liable for loss unless it shall be proved that at the time of their doing or suffering of such loss, they were personally conscious that their act or default resulting in such loss was done or suffered by them in bad faith.

IN WITNESS whereof I have hereunto set my hand this 4th day of January, 2017.

will signature 2

 

SIGNED by the Testator TAN XIAO MING
as and for his last Will before both of us,
the undersigned, who in his presence
and in the presence of each other have
hereunto set our names as witnesses:

witnessing of will singapore

Learn More about Wills in Singapore


What’s the difference between Mirror Wills, Mutual Wills, and Joint Wills in Singapore?

What you Can and Cannot Give Away in your Singapore Will

Can I Appoint another Person to be the Guardian of my Children in my Singapore Will?

How should I Keep and Store my Singapore Will?

What happens if I don’t Include my Family Members in my Will in Singapore?

 

If you'd like to hire an affordable, vetted Singapore lawyer to draft a will, apply for grants of probate or letters of administration, get in touch with us here.