By Lena Teng, CFP®, Acting Head of Solutions and Investment Lead, MoneyOwl
Amongst all the pillars of financial management, from savings to investments to retirement planning, will-writing is definitely the one that’s most misunderstood.
A will is a legal document through which a person declares how his/her assets will be distributed in the event of death. A simple internet search on ‘will-writing’ brings you to a long list of suggestions, of which a good number of them focus only on breaking down its misconceptions and common myths. The immense number of articles on this just goes to show that many are still unsure of this confusing and misunderstood aspect of financial planning.
This is a significant knowledge gap that needs to be addressed—as it contributes a big part to why will-writing remains to be a taboo topic amongst most in Singapore, with 56% of adult Singaporeans reporting that they have not made a will.
Will writing is not only crucial, but also a surprisingly simpler process compared to all other aspects of financial planning. The quick questionnaire below will help you unpack the seemingly mysterious concept of will-writing.
Question 1. Which of these is closest to the sum left unclaimed over the last 6 years by those who died without naming a beneficiary ?
Question 2. How long would writing a simple will online take?
a. 1 hour 30 minutes
b. 1 hour
c. 30 minutes
d. 15 minutes
Question 3. What is the cheapest rate to have a simple will written?
Question 4. Which of these are included in wills?
a. CPF, Assets
b. CPF, Assets, Liabilities
c. CPF, Assets, Liabilities, Beneficiaries
d. Assets, Liabilities, Beneficiaries
The correct answer for all 4 questions is (d). Writing a will is that fast, that simple, and costs nothing.
Still not convinced to get your will written, consider these:
• There is over $211 million unclaimed monies with Singapore’s Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office accumulated over the last six years. This is an ongoing issue, with the Ministry of Finance even setting up an online register of claimants to return the monies to the rightful owners
• The balance in your CPF accounts, properties under joint tenancy, and joint savings accounts cannot be included in your will
• You don’t need to approach a lawyer
• Once written, you can go online and update it
It is true that will-writing can be daunting and confusing, but the biggest and most dangerous misconception on will-writing remains to be — the false belief that one does not need a will.
COVID-19 is slowly changing our minds, especially since the lockdowns have given people more time to prioritise matters that they had previously been putting off. For instance, just between May and June this year, MoneyOwl, a bionic financial advisor and fund management company, observed a sharp 75% jump in wills made on their platform, and a further 70% jump from July to August. As more explore to do up their wills, it’s also worth looking at the two main ways we can do so.
1. Engaging a lawyer: for a complex will that involves trusts or properties overseas, it can be written for a few hundred dollars or more, depending on the professional legal advice provided. The exact cost would differ according to the complexity of the document, and the entire process for which it is drafted, approved, and witnessed by the lawyer.
2. Will-writing platforms online: for a simple will, you can utilise will-writing platforms online, at little or no cost. These platforms provide assurance that your last will and testament fulfils all the legal requirements, without incurring the costs and hassle of getting it drafted, approved, or witnessed by a lawyer.
Many people overlook or neglect the will writing aspect of financial planning. We spend so much time and effort building up our assets and looking after ourselves and our family. These unprecedented times are a reminder that life is uncertain, and writing a will is the only way we can ensure that what we leave behind is distributed amongst our loved ones in a hassle-free and comfortable way.