Under the Wills Act, a will devises, bequeaths or disposes of one’s real estate and personal estate. Without a will, the State can distribute one’s property according to the Intestate Succession Act. This guide will explain some different will-writing services available in Singapore.
Making a Will through a Lawyer
People most commonly engage a lawyer to make one’s will. This has several benefits, including:
- Obtaining professional advice on the distribution of your assets (e.g. tax savings)
- Ensuring clarity of the will
- Avoiding mistakes during the drafting procedure
- Reducing the likelihood of your will being contested
Other benefits include:
Ability to make an LPA at the same time
An additional benefit of engaging a lawyer for will-writing services is the ability to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) at the same time. An LPA is a legal document that allows one to voluntarily appoint one or more persons to make decisions and act on his behalf in the event of a loss of mental capacity.
The LPA complements the will. This is because while the will operates after one’s death, the LPA operates after one loses his mental capacity. It is therefore common for people to make both a will and an LPA.
Apart from assisting you to draft a will, your lawyer can also act as the certificate issuer of an LPA for you in the same sitting.
You have recourse against your lawyer if the will is negligently drafted
It is also important to bear in mind that engaging a lawyer’s services to make a will involves professional liability.
This means that legal action can be taken against a lawyer where there was negligence or malpractice involved in drafting the will. A lawyer has to have insurance coverage when he practises. This does not apply in the case of non-lawyer will services.
Cost of engaging a wills lawyer
Engaging a lawyer to draft a will for you will incur a fee. A range of fees are charged according to the type and complexity of the will.
For example, mutual wills are less straightforward than a simple will as the former are identical wills made by two people, such as husband and wife. Alternatively, some wills comprise a larger number of clauses than others and may cost more.
Making a Will Online
Apart from lawyers, there are also other will-writing services available today.
For example, we offer an online WillMaker service for individuals to make a will from the comfort of their home. It works by getting your instructions on who should receive which of your assets after you pass away, and in what proportions.
You can then download a soft copy of the will to be printed and signed in the presence of 2 witnesses.
WillMaker would be ideal if you have a straightforward distribution of assets in mind, without requiring other legal mechanisms such as setting up a trust. At $89 per will, using WillMaker would generally be cheaper than having a lawyer write a will for you.
Making a Will Yourself
It is also possible to write your own will. We have a guide on how to do so here.
Further guidance can be sought from introductory courses such as will-writing seminars, which are also organised by service providers and estate planning firms like NTUC Income and Bequest respectively.
What Should You Do after Making a Will?
Keep the will in a safe place
The will should be stored in a safe location to reduce the chances of it becoming lost or damaged over time. You should also inform your family members where you’ve kept the will so they can retrieve it when necessary.
You may also consider storing information on your will, including where it has been kept, with the Wills Registry. This allows your family members to retrieve the details of your will in case they have forgotten. However, the Wills Registry will not keep the original will for you.
Ensure that the will remains in line with your wishes
After you have written your will, it is important to ensure that, over time, it remains aligned with your current wishes. Your interests and wishes may change due to many reasons, such as a change in close relationships or a death of a named beneficiary.
While simple, minor alterations to your will may be made by a codicil, more complicated and radical amendments are best reflected by making a new will. These can also be done by yourself, but you may want to have a lawyer make the amendments for you to ensure clarity and legitimacy of the will. You can read more about changing your will here.