What you can and cannot give away in your Singapore Will

what can you include in Singapore will


When speaking to a lawyer in Singapore, many clients often assume they can include everything they “own” under the sun in their wills.

Sadly, this isn’t the case, and there are a number of items that should not be included in a Singapore will.

The Wills Act (Chapter 352) states that every person may give away all real estate and personal estate which he is entitled to at law at the time of his death.

So basically you can give away everything you’re entitled as long as you’re entitled to do so. This is all fine and good but it doesn’t specifically state what you can’t give away in your will.


So what are the things you can’t give away under a will?

1) Central Provident Fund (“CPF”) Money

Your CPF money can’t be distributed through a will in Singapore. Usually, a CPF nomination has to be made. However, in the event a CPF nomination is NOT made, including your nomination of the beneficiary of your CPF money in your will still does not validate it under Singapore law.

In a nutshell, whether you nominate a beneficiary or not, the money paid out by the CPF will NOT form part of the estate.

You’re probably wondering what happens if you don’t make a CPF nomination. In such a situation, the money will be paid to the Public Trustee in Singapore, who will pay it out in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act (for non-Muslims) or the Administration of Muslim Act (for Muslims)

2) Jointly-owned properties

For real-estate properties that are held as joint tenants, these properties cannot be passed on through the operation of a will. In Singapore law, these properties will pass onto the surviving joint-owners automatically upon the death of the other joint-owner.

Joint-bank accounts and joint-stock brokerage accounts also follow this same logic. Generally-speaking, the assets in joint-bank accounts and joint-stock brokerage accounts would also be payable to the surviving account holder.

Under the terms of most joint-bank accounts, the banks have clauses stating that on the death of a joint-bank account holder, the surviving account holder will be entitled to withdraw the entire credit balance in the joint account, and the bank has no liability to the estate of the deceased account holder for paying out the balance.

However, this really depends on the true intention of the deceased when opening the joint-accounts. It is common for a parent to open joint-accounts with one of their children, and these joint-accounts may contain monies solely funded by that parent.

In Singapore, there have been cases where the Singapore courts held that joint-bank account assets would go to the estate when it was the intention of the parent opening up the joint-account not to only benefit the child he or she was opening it with.

There is a way of including joint property in a will and this is through the execution of a mirror will. What a mirror will is and how it operates will be dealt with in another article.

3). Insurance Proceeds

Similar to how CPF money is distributed, the proceeds of insurance policies will go to the beneficiaries nominated in the insurance policies.

If you'd like to hire us to draft your will, get in touch with us here.

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