Ensuring Equality with Will Writing

A legally valid will can secure assets and guardianship for LGBTQ partners, even before the law catches up to reality.

With Singapore still far from legalizing LGBT unions, leaving assets behind becomes tricky for same sex couples without a will.

Singapore laws hand over financial decision-making and inheritance to spouses or blood relatives rather than domestic partners or families of choice. This means that surviving LGBT partners or other loved ones can be totally shut out of an inheritance, resulting in the loss of critical retirement savings, forfeiture of a family home, or impoverishment.

A major consideration is that cohabiting partners do not automatically inherit assets held in their partner’s sole name and it is therefore very important that a suitable Will is made to ensure the surviving partner is not disinherited.

What happens in Singapore if you don’t have a Will?

If a person passes away without a will, the Singaporean law of intestacy applies. According to the formula, if a person dies leaving a legally recognized spouse (but no parents or children), the spouse receives 100%, and so forth according to the table below.

Decease Dies Intestate Leaving Distribution
(No parents or Issue)*
Spouse 100%
Issue (To be shared equally) 50%
Spouse, Issue
(With or without parents)
Spouse 50%
Issue (To be shared equally) 50%
(No spouse)
Issue 50%
(To be shared equally) 100%
Spouse, Parents
(No issue)
Spouse 50%
Parents (To be shared equally) 50%
(No spouse or issue)
(To be shared equally) 100%
(No parents, issue or parents)
(To be shared equally) 100%
(No spouse, issue, parent or siblings)
(To be shared equally) 100%
Uncles & Aunts
(No spouse, issue, parents, siblings or grandparents)
Uncles & Aunts 50%
(To be shared equally) 100%
None of the above
(No parents or Issue)

*“issue” - includes ‘legitimate’ children and the ‘legitimate’ descendants of deceased children.

Without any provisions for long term partners (of either gender) who are not married, or allowed to be married under Singaporean law, the only way to ensure that both partners could benefit from assets under either person’s name is to write a will.

According to Singapore Law, the standard requirements for a legally valid Will are set forth in the Wills Act, and state that:

  • The Testator (person writing the will) must be older than 21 years old;

  • The Testator must have the requisite mental capacity to make the will;

  • The will must be made in writing, and must be signed by the Testator in the presence of two (2) witnesses;

  • The witnesses cannot be a beneficiary under the will.

Although there are other rules, these are the standard requirements for wills in Singapore. The Will does not need to be notarized to be legally valid.

Do I need an attorney to make a will?

No. An attorney is not required to make a will in Singapore. For the vast majority of people, an attorney will simply do the same things that a good will-making software does — ask you questions and then create documents for you based on your information and wishes. However, in certain situations it is a good idea seek legal advice from an attorney, like if you have a child with special needs, or if you have a high net worth estate ($10 million+) and have complex requests. In these cases, an attorney can help you navigate special questions and create a proper plan.

Writing your Will

Thankfully, writing a will is no longer an opaque, expensive, one-time process. Plover is designed for LGBT couples and singles in Singapore who wish to bequeath their assets to persons of their choice.

You can get started with just a click, save your progress, and fill out the information at your leisure, in the convenience and privacy of home.

As you get started, keep these top tips in mind:

  • Pick an executor for your will who is capable, who you can trust; they can be a beneficiary

  • Don’t have your beneficiary as a witness

  • Fill in your assets as thoroughly as you can— if you find it too troublesome, imagine the challenges your executor will face

  • Keep your will in a safe place in your home or with a will custody service, and make sure the right people know where to find it.

  • Follow best practices but actually get it done. And be sure to mark the moment with a celebration!

What happens if we separate?

If your circumstances change, due to a separation, or a child, simply log back in to Plover and generate a new will. Your new will will revoke all previous wills, and allows you to update your assets and distribution.

This post was last edited on Jul 01, 2020

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