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Will Writing

>> Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Recently read this post about junk Wills which highlight 2 interesting scenarios where Will writing got messed up by lawyers.


1. Mr X instructed lawyer for assets to go to his brother. Privately, Mr X told his brother that the monies to be given to him is actually meant for him to take care of his children who are still minors. This arrangement was not mentioned in the Will. The lawyer did not do a proper fact find to advise, this “private” arrangement is dangerous because her brother has no legal obligation to hand over the money to the children.

2. Mr Y told lawyer he wants to give his assets to his three children. The lawyer did not advise properly and drafted the will stating “all surviving children of X”. Having this phrase means that if one child predeceased the testator, the gift will be distributed to the remaining surviving children. This is logical, but only if they were minors. However, Mr Y's children are all grown up with families of their own. In fact, Mr Y would actually like the predeceased child’s family (i.e. his grandchildren) to get more as they will be going through more hardship.

Many people dislike entertaining the thoughts of death and avoid estate planning. However, it is only when you are alive that you can plan for it, nothing can be done after you depart. You will no longer have the choice of how you wish to leave your legacy.

Misconception is that writing a will is expensive as you require a lawyer. As shown above, lawyers aren't all that helpful. And anyway, one does not need a lawyer to write a Will, a valid Will is governed by the Wills Act. Having a GOOD lawyer's advice is recommended if you have a complex estate (i.e. overseas properties, partnership in a company, etc) to manage, after all, it is a small one off price to pay for some peace of mind. However, if price is still a barrier, there are many available templates online to draft a simple will for FREE. After which, it can be registered for FREE with the Registry of Wills.

Lastly, Wills should be reviewed at least once every 3-5 years or when necessary.

Time and tide wait for no man.

Coincidentally, as I was writing this article, I was just updated that Mr Ng Teng Fong, Singapore's richest man, has just passed away at age 82.


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