No one wants to think about his or her own death, but those who don’t plan for this inevitable event may leave their families with no idea what their loved one would have wanted done with his or her possessions. If you haven’t thought about estate planning, there’s no time like the present. You never know when a sudden accident that costs you your life will occur. If you’re in Singapore, you can work with a local legal expert to prepare a number of legal documents that make your wishes known and direct how your possessions are to be handled.
When most people think of estate planning, they think of writing wills. This document outlines how you want your estate, which includes your money and possessions, distributed upon your death. You name each beneficiary and what he or she is to receive. You also must name an executor. This is the person who is in charge of administering your estate. He or she deals with all of the paperwork that must be filed upon your death and acts as your legal representative to close out your accounts.
Note that if you’re living in Singapore as an expatriate, you may have assets both there and in your native country. This may require specific language in your will to make certain that is it valid in both countries.
A trust is a way of protecting your money while passing it on to your dependents. When you create a trust, you transfer assets into a specific legal entity. You then appoint trustees to safeguard the trust until such time as the beneficiaries are allowed to take possession of it. This can be done to protect your assets from creditors, minimise the amount of taxes paid upon your death, and help provide for family members who are mentally disabled.
This sounds complicated, which is why you should always work with an established legal expert when creating a trust. This is especially true when you have questions about specialised trust and estate planning in Singapore, where the law may be different than the law in your home country.
Power of Attorney
This document is different from a will or a trust in that it concerns your wishes while you’re still alive. It gives the named individual the power to act as your proxy in the event that you are unable to do so. If you have been in a serious car accident, for example, the person named as your Power of Attorney will be asked to make medical decisions on your behalf. The individual may also make financial decisions and take other legal actions in your name.
If you live with your children in Singapore and are either a single parent or something happens to both you and your spouse, your children may immediately be placed in the care of the state until the legal guardian you have named in your will arrives. If that legal guardian does not live in Singapore, it can take a matter of days for that to happen. A temporary guardianship appoints someone you know, such as a friend or neighbour, as your children’s caretaker until the legal guardian arrives.