The whole idea of engaging in estate planning might be a cause of discomfort for some, given that the whole ‘plan’ comes into play only after the demise of a loved one (or your own demise, if you’re making the plan yourself). But, estate planning will always remain a pragmatic option for those who own an estate and want to ensure that it is successfully and proportionately divided amongst their beneficiaries. A carefully thought-out estate plan ensures that your estate is carefully divided just as you want it, you ensure that there’s no familial discord after you’re gone and that you have a legacy that people would look up to.
Estate planning in Singapore has slowly and steadily grown in popularity as a result of increasing awareness about the importance of estate planning and the steadily growing affluence that Singapore enjoys in the 21st century.
A Customised Division
Surely, you want to divide your entire estate amongst your loved ones, your family members, and maybe even reserve a few gifts for your extended family, if applicable. Here, for all intents and purposes, you need to account for every piece of property, every piece of the asset, and every piece of prized possession that you own and designate the relevant heirs as per the combination of your personal preference and (hopefully) good judgement. What happens if you don’t allocate heirs? The court steps in and conducts the division as they see fit – and you don’t want that. You don’t want your family members to bicker amongst themselves, get legally entangled and squander your hard-earned money in the process. While you have a chance, you should ideally be the one to customise the division, the way you want it.
A Preservation Act
Under normal circumstances (when there’s no estate planning involved) the process of estate distribution is inefficient and we witness several instances of ‘leakages’ in the process. Through estate planning, you and your legal team can ensure that you save as much as you can and minimise unnecessary paperwork (for later on) that can be avoided at this stage. What works in your favour is that estate planning in Singapore is now relatively cheaper, owing to the removal of the ‘estate duty tax’, which was applicable to all deaths that occurred before 15th February of 2008. On the other hand, there are some leakages that you simply can’t avoid – these are probate fees, and other medical and administrative expenses that you’ll incur later on.
A Brand New Will
What happens if you don’t partake in estate planning? Chances are that you skip over creating a functional will where you dictate terms. What happens if you don’t create a will in the first place? The Laws of Intestacy in Singapore will then come into place. For those who forget to or don’t get to write their own will, the state steps in and has a ‘default will’ ready. But, this default will surely don’t account for your preferences in asset distribution – and that’s precisely why you need estate planning. You can either execute a valid will for yourself or perhaps start to create a revocable trust where you can transfer your assets while you’re still alive. You can get into the specifics with the legal team that will aid you all along the duration of the process.
A Protection for the Young
Your will – which is a part of a greater estate planning process – also accounts for the possibility of your life coming to an abrupt halt due to unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances. Now, naturally, nobody wants to think about such an outcome, let alone prepare for it. But, that still remains the more pragmatic thing to do, especially if you have young ones of your own who haven’t graduated into adulthood. Here, through estate planning in Singapore, you can account for such a scenario and allocate to your child their rightful inheritance that they receive once they come of age. Without a will, the state also assumes the right to designate a guardian for your child. If you have preferences in this regard, estate planning is certainly the way to go.
A Protection for the Not-so-Young
Not only does efficient estate planning help you protect your young ones, but it also helps you protect and guide your adult beneficiaries. A solid estate plan helps your beneficiaries ensure that the part of the estate granted to them remains intact for the long years to come. Oftentimes, some beneficiaries end up losing small or large chunks of their estate owing to poor decision-making. External influence, creditor issues, or a nasty divorce can all plant significant holes in the portion of the estate that you had granted to them. With efficient estate planning and able legal representation by your legal team, you can add certain clauses to your plan that shall ensure their long-term well-being alongside that of their estate.
A Family sans Discord
We have witnessed countless families breaking apart after the demise of its primary head. This happens as a result of constant fighting over the individual assets that the primary head’s estate comprises of. And, this happens more often where there’s lack of estate planning and a lack of clear elaboration as to who gets what, how, and when. When you’re clearly outlining your wishes, you’re eliminating the scope of a familial dispute and the subsequent legal mess that follows. In most cases, this is a result of a family member believing that they have been wronged. To simplify matters, you can clearly outline who gets to be in charge after your passing or in an event where you become incapacitated.
We hope you go about the process in a methodical manner when you do get to it. Draft an elaborate will that accounts for all the assets at your disposal, identify the potential heirs that should be rewarded with an inheritance, select an executor who oversees the distribution of your estate and plan for your own funeral – the way you always wanted it.
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