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Information you may need for Estate planning

“Estate” refers to all the assets you have at the point of death. When you estate-plan, you decide how you manage and transfer your assets in the event of your incapacity or death.

In Singapore, estate duties or “inheritance tax” is not payable for persons dying after 15 February 2008. You, therefore, don’t have to worry about planning your estate in such a way as to try and limit the estate duties payable.

Should you be thinking of doing a will, there is a few information which you will need to prepare in advance.

List of assets located in Singapore and elsewhere
  1. Details of bank accounts (single or in joint names)
  2. Details of insurance policies (state if there are nominations)
  3. Details of real estate (single or in joint names)
  4. Details of accounts with financial institutions
  5. Details of businesses and business interests
  6. Details of other property

Also read: Organize your finances for your loved ones 

Executor and trustees

These are the persons you would want to entrust to execute the instructions in your will. As the office of executor and trustee is an onerous one, these persons should be prepared to give time and attention to carry out such responsibilities. They may act solely or jointly. A minimum of 2 persons is advisable.  As an alternative, a professional executorship and trustee service could be something that you can appoint to carry out the responsibility.

Beneficiaries

These are the persons whom you would want to benefit from your estate. They can be individuals such as your family members or organizations such as charities. Please highlight if there are any persons such as family members who ordinarily would expect to receive benefits from your estate but are not to be provided for or are to be given insignificantly when compared to other beneficiaries.

Guardians

If you have minor beneficiaries who are still below 21, it is advisable to appoint close relatives or friends as the guardians that both parents generally agree on.

Specific gifts

Do you wish to give specific sums of money to anyone, including money standing in a bank account, property, shares in a business, or personal and household items, etc. to any particular beneficiaries?

Testamentary trusts

This should be considered as an alternative to the giving of assets directly to beneficiaries. If there are assets such as real estate, or liquid assets aggregating more than $500,000 in value, for example like proceeds of life insurance payouts and from sources like investments and money that are expected to be realized at the time of death, it is prudent to consider holding these assets under trusts to avoid potential squandering by young, immature or vulnerable beneficiaries.

Residue

This captures all your assets that are not specified earlier; i.e. the residue is the part of the estate that remains after all specific and general gifts have been made and all claims satisfied. The plan could involve dividing the residue among your closest family members by percentage (%). The residue may be immediately gifted to specific beneficiaries or may be gifted in a staggered way through testamentary trusts.

Other considerations
  1. Need to address payment of anticipated liabilities?
  2. Need to exclude any persons as beneficiary?
  3. Need to have a common disaster clause?
  4. Wish to state terms of endearment to loved ones?
  5. Wish to give to charitable causes?
  6. Need a Lasting Power of Attorney (because of potential mental incapacity)?
  7. Need Lifetime Asset Protection?
  8. Need to address marital aspects concerning testator or his beneficiaries?
  9. Need for specific tax advice relating to taxes on gifts, estate duties, inheritance taxes where issues of foreign domicile and cross-border assets are involved?
  10. Need to address forced heirship issues?
  11. Need to address assets held in joint names with another?
  12. Need to address stamp duty and additional buyer’s stamp duty issues concerning residential properties?
  13. Any other issues not mentioned above?

Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now. – Alan Lakein

Updated on January 22, 2018

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