The case of Mr. Soon Chwee Guan was reported in The Straits Times in September 2016 (Jalelah Abu Baker, “Dead man’s CPF savings of over $170,000 will go to siblings instead of China bride”, The Straits Times, 8 September 2016).
Under the law in Singapore, should a person pass away without leaving a Will, his/ her assets will be distributed entirely to his/ her spouse if he/ she does not have any living children or parents. Assuming that the deceased has no living children, parents or spouse, his/ her assets will be divided amongst his/ her siblings equally.
See: Section 7 of Intestate Succession Act
In Mr. Soon’s case, his marriage was deemed to be a “sham marriage” which, according to the Judge, was “probably done so [that his wife] could bolster her chances of staying on in Singapore and working here”. As the marriage was proven to be a “sham”, Mr. Soon’s siblings got to inherit his assets instead.
Can I distribute my assets in a different way?
If you are married and you do not have a Will, your assets will be distributed as per Section 7 of the Intestate Succession Act. I would usually advise clients who wish to distribute their assets differently to execute a Will. For instance, under the law, if they are married with children, half of their assets will go to their spouse and the other half to their children. Many of my clients wish to give something to their aging parents upon their demise. They will be able to do so if they have a Will.
You do not need to, if your intentions have not changed.
However, if you do remarry, your previous Will be void and should you not have a new Will, your assets will be distributed under the rules in the Intestate Succession Act.
The same applies to those who are marrying for the first time. Any Will executed prior to the marriage will be void.
Are all assets covered under the Will?
For CPF funds and insurance payouts, you may wish to nominate a beneficiary.
If you have joint bank accounts and properties under joint tenancy (you will need to check your land title deed to know if your property is under joint tenancy), the funds in the joint accounts and joint tenanted properties will automatically go to the surviving account holder/ property owner. In other words, you will not be able to distribute assets held under joint bank accounts and joint tenancy.
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