When it comes to will-writing, you would realise that there is no cookie-cutter approach given every individual’s unique relationships and circumstances. In particular, if you are remarrying or have remarried, you may want to know how to write a will that covers your blended family, including children from your previous and current marriages, and stepchildren.
In this article, I will explain the issues surrounding a blended family in Singapore that make it trickier and all the more necessary to write a will. This includes:
Revocation of Will Upon Marriage
Under the Wills Act, a (re)marriage automatically revokes your previously written will. This means that if you remarry, a will that you had previously written automatically becomes invalid. Your estate will then be distributed according to the Intestate Succession Act (ISA) if you do not write another will.
However, the distribution of your estate under the ISA could be very different from the provisions of your revoked will and may not reflect your wishes (more below).
The only exception to this rule is where you had written your will in contemplation of a marriage. In this case, you must have had declared in your will that it shall not be revoked by reason of your marriage, and that the will is to remain valid after that marriage takes place.
What Happens If You Die Without Leaving a Will?
If your will has been invalidated by reason of remarriage, or if you simply had not left behind a will, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules laid down in the ISA.
Under the ISA, if you leave behind your spouse and children, your spouse would be entitled to half of your estate, while your children would get the other half in equal portions. In this case, it does not matter if your children are from a previous or current marriage, so long as they are your legitimate children.
On the other hand, if you leave behind only your children (and no spouse), your children would be entitled to your estate in equal portions.
Notice something? Stepchildren are not entitled to any part of your estate under the ISA. This is because the ISA defines “child” as a legitimate child and any adopted child, hence requiring a legal and biological connection between the parent and child. Therefore, stepchildren, who are neither biological children nor adopted children, will not be entitled to a share of your assets under the ISA.
Providing For Your Children and Stepchildren in a Will
Estate distribution could be a touchy topic and requires thorough and thoughtful planning, especially if you have children and stepchildren from previous and current marriages. If this is not handled properly, you could leave behind disgruntled, hurt and disappointed parties and create conflict and tension among them.
The best way to provide for your children, stepchildren and spouse is to prepare a properly considered will that sets down in black and white how you want your assets to be distributed. Particularly, if you are a stepparent who wants to leave certain assets to your stepchildren, it is incumbent on you to provide for their entitlement in a will.
Drawing up a will is ideal also because of the flexibility it would afford you – you could set up a trust to provide for your (step)children, or divide your assets in your preferred proportions (equal or otherwise).
The distribution of assets in a blended family may not be a straightforward matter and it is thus prudent to have your wishes clearly expressed in a proper will. Furthermore, you may also need to update your other estate planning strategies, such as CPF nominations or insurance policy nominations, if you will be forming or have formed a blended family.
If you need advice on how to write a will or have specific concerns in relation to will-drafting and estate distribution in Singapore for your blended family, please do not hesitate to contact me. Let us work together in coming up with a will that reflects your wishes and protects your loved ones from unwanted conflict.