Questions about Will writing
Is it necessary to have a will?
If you’re like most people, thinking about a future where you may not be around is not so enticing. Yet being a responsible adult requires many tasks that we might not otherwise wish to perform, and estate planning is one of them. If you create an estate plan, you can be confident that you’ve taken steps to protect you and your family.
On the other hand, if you put off estate planning for too long or choose not to create a plan, you leave it up to others to make important decisions for you with no way of knowing (or controlling) what those choices are or who makes them.
A will is your act of love for your loved ones. It helps speed up the settlement of your estate and avoids unforeseen complications or conflict while they are grieving.
How do I get started with writing a will?
There are 3 main steps to writing a will:
- Naming the people/organisations who will inherit your assets
- Naming the person who will execute your will
- Distributing your assets either as a percentage of your estate, or as specific gifts
If you have children (or even pets), assigning guardians for them will be the 4th main step.
Goodwill guides you through all the steps so you don’t have to think through them individually.
Start writing your will here.
How do I make my will legally binding?
In order for the will to be legally valid, it must meet the following criteria:
- Written by someone who is above 21 and of sound mind
- Signed by the will writer and two witnesses at the same time, in hard copy
- Witnesses cannot be beneficiaries in the will or their spouses
Once it’s signed properly, store it in a safe place, and inform your executor. And you’re done!
Despite what many people mistakenly believe, you do not need a lawyer to write or endorse a will. It’s the law.
Is Goodwill’s will writing service suitable for me?
We designed this will-writing service to be easy and hassle-free to benefit as many people as possible, while also providing significant flexibility.
This is how it works
You can provide specific items or monies as gifts to individuals or organisation
The reminder of your estate (after debts, taxes, expenses, and specific gifts have been distributed) is called your residuary estate, and this can be left to people or charities as percentages
For more advanced needs, such as an Islamic will, complex business succession guidelines, you may wish to seek legal advice.
But for the vast majority of us, Goodwill can guide you in identifying your beneficiaries, and the proportion of estate you intend to distribute, as well as guardians (if you have a young child), and executors.
How do I choose an executor for will?
You can name anyone over 21 to be your executor.
They can be a friend or family member, and there are no restrictions about naming a beneficiary in your will to also act as an executor.
When naming an executor, it is best to choose someone who can:
- be trusted to carry out your wishes
- find your financial information based on your list of assets and beyond
- navigate the legal process with the help of a lawyer or on their own
You can also assign a professional attorney to serve as your executor. Contact Goodwill via the chat button to obtain a referral to law firms that can execute your will when the time comes. No commissions apply.
How do I create my will?
Start by signing up here As you sign in, you can go through a simple step-by-step process and answer some basic questions. After completing only 3 sections, you will be able to preview and download your will, along with complete instructions, and schedule of assets.
Print and sign with two witnesses to make it legally valid, and store in a safe place. One big item will be completed, and can be updated easily in minutes anytime in the future.
How do I choose witnesses for my will?
You need two witnesses and there are only a few (but important) conditions to keep in mind:
- they must be above 21
- they must be of sound mind
- they must be able to witness your signing in person (therefore cannot be legally blind)
- choose a family member, spouse, or friend who may benefit from the will
- choose anyone younger than 21
- ensure witness name, ID number, and signature are clearly written in the document
Choosing someone unrelated to you, and who is not in a will but who has clear identification, such as coworkers, neighbours, or friends, or a notary service are the best choices to witness a will.
How can I get my will witnessed properly and still maintain my privacy?
Now you know you need two witnesses above 21, who are of sound mind to witness your signing in order to make your will legal.
But what if it is awkward to ask your friends or colleagues to witness your will?
To easily endorse your will, here are some other options:
- Let us know via chat! We provide Witness service in our offices for anyone who writes a will.
- Approach any notary service. Any public notary will also be able to witness your will. There may be a small fee for each witness. Chat with us to identify a local notary close to you.
How do I qualify to write a will in Singapore?
According to the Wills Act, in order for the will to be legally valid, the will writer must be above 21 years of age and of sound mind.
There are no other requirements to write a will that is legally valid here.
There are a number of guidelines and best practices when it comes to the contents of your will.
You can obtain step by step guidance on the process and a legally valid last will and testament vetted by top legal minds through Goodwill. Click here to get started.
What assets cannot be distributed through my will?
The following assets cannot be distributed through a will:
- CPF balances will be distributed according to your CPF Nomination if you have made one. If you do not make a CPF nomination, your money will be paid to the Public Trustee in Singapore, who will pay it out in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act. Read more on the CPF website and download the form here https://www.cpf.gov.sg/Members/Schemes/schemes/other-matters/cpf-nomination-scheme
- Proceeds of insurance policies will go to the beneficiaries nominated in the insurance policies. If you do not make a nomination, the proceeds will form part of your estate to be distributed according to your will or if no will is done, it will be distributed in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act.
- Property under Joint Tenancy – the property will be passed over to the survivor joint tenant. For example, if you own a property as joint tenants with your brother, in the event that you pass on, your brother will inherit the property wholly. If the joint owner passes on, and you become a sole owner, then the property becomes part of your estate and can be distributed through your will.
- Generally-speaking, the assets in joint-bank accounts and joint-stock brokerage accounts would also be payable to the surviving account holder. However, due to different clauses with regards to these accounts, in some cases, these assets may form part of the estate to be distributed according to your will or the Intestate Succession Act.
What happens to my children if I pass away without a will?
If one parent passes away, the other parent is automatically appointed guardian. For single parent households, or in case both parents pass away in a mutual incident (such as a car accident, or natural disaster), the courts will look to see if the parents have named a testamentary guardian to care for the child.
If not, any person can apply to the court to be the guardian of your children under section 6(3) of the GIA. and will be granted guardianship if it is in the best interest of the child.
If a suitable guardian does not step forward, the state may take the child into its own care. Your children could be placed in a home for vulnerable children and young persons. This is hardly a desirable outcome for most parents for their grieving child.
To avoid a protracted process where your children’s care is uncertain, it is a good idea to name a guardian in your will.
When should I update my will?
You should review your will from time to time to make sure it remains current and valid. These are situations where you should review and amend your will if necessary:
- change in distribution wishes
- change or death of any of beneficiaries, guardian, executor, trustee
- marriage or re-marriage revokes your will, so you must attest a new, updated copy of your will
- change in personal circumstances such as addition of new family member, or divorce
Be aware that you may not alter your will by simply crossing something out or adding something new. Making a handwritten change could invalidate your entire will.
How do I safekeep my will?
Once you have written and held a signing (you sign, along with two witnesses), you can store the Will anywhere that your executor can access it.
Here are a few recommendations:
Do not store your will in a bank’s safe deposit box: Safe deposit box accounts are frozen if something happens to their primary owner. If wills are stored there, they cannot be accessed by the executor, defeating the purpose of writing the will. If your executor cannot find your will, you will be considered intestate, and your assets will be distributed by the court based on the law of intestacy.
At your home, along with your important documents: Store your signed and completed will at home, in a sealed envelope along with your other important documents.
If you were to ever lose your will (in a fire or during a move for example), simply log back in to Goodwill, make any changes you wish, and download another copy. All your information is stored safely in your account vault. Sign along with two witnesses and your will is as good as new!
Will storage services: You can also store your will with a will storage service. This may cost a few dollars a month. Click on the chat button to obtain a referral to a reliable will storage service. No commissions apply.
How can I ensure my children will be financially stable if something happens to me and my spouse?
Make guardianship arrangements: Choose a testamentary guardian in your will that you and your spouse trust to take excellent care of your child, should something happen to you. More on choosing a guardian here
Get life insurance: Most people first consider life insurance when they have children. They want to know that even if they pass away, the people depending on them financially will be taken care of. Life insurance is an agreement between you and an insurance company, to pay a lump sum to the people you’ve nominated.
Create a trust: If you have children, trusts are an especially important instrument to consider. A trust can prevent using up the assets too soon, or unnecessarily.
A nominated trustee can hold the property while the child is still a minor, also, depending on your instructions, further invest or grow the trust funds while still providing a steady payout for the care of your children. This can continue to grow your assets in your absence.
Having a trust doesn’t mean your children can never have the ownership of your property. A trust can be limited till your children reach a certain age. You can then leave instructions to pass the property to them. Trusts are commonly kept until the beneficiary is 18, 21 or 25.