What happens if one dies without a Will?

In Singapore, one’s assets will be distributed according to the Intestate Succession Act if there is no Will. A person who made a Will is called a testator, and a person who died without a Will is said to have died intestate.

When that happens, the estate settlement process can become costlier in terms of time and money for one’s family members.

Apply for Letters of Administration

When there is a Will, an executor appointed by the testator will take on the responsibility of carrying out the testator’s wishes and managing and distributing his estate.

Without a Will, the surviving family members will have to apply for Letters of Administration before they can manage or distribute the deceased’s estate. The court will then appoint a maximum of four administrators from among the surviving family members to deal with the estate.

This process may require more steps and involve greater legal or administrative costs than if the deceased had made a Will. The surviving family members may need to engage a lawyer to assist them with the extraction of the Grant to Letters of Administration. Otherwise, they would have to refer to the Probate and Administration Toolkit on the Family Justice Courts website.

Singapore’s Intestate Succession Act

After obtaining the Letters of Administration, the administrator(s) will then be required to compile a schedule of assets and distribute the estate in this manner:

  1. Only spouse – surviving spouse would get 100% of the estate
  2. Only parents – each parent would get an equal share of the estate
  3. Spouse and children – 50/50 split
  4. Spouse and Parents – 50/50 split
  5. Siblings – if there are no spouse, parents and/or children, the estate will be split equally among siblings
  6. Grandparents – if there are no spouse, parents, children and/or siblings, the estate will be split equally among grandparents
  7. Uncles and aunts – if all of the abovementioned relatives are not present, the estate will be split equally among each uncle and aunt
  8. Government – if none of the above is present, government takes all of the deceased’s estate

This manner of distribution may not be satisfactory to many people. For example, if a person leaves behind a spouse, children and parents, the parents will not receive any part of the estate according to the Intestate Succession Act. An unmarried person may wish to leave his or her estate to their life partner, favourite nieces and nephews, as well as charity organisations. However, such intended beneficiaries will not receive a single cent if one dies without a Will.

The Intestate Succession Act does not apply to Muslims.

The importance of a Will

You may not want your family to know exactly what assets you own while you are still alive. But without a Will and a schedule of assets compiled by you, will they know exactly how to locate and extract every asset you own? Can you count on them to accurately compile your schedule of assets? Will all your loved ones be taken care of the way you hope they would be? By the way, it is crucial to note that assets that are undiscovered will not be distributed to your spouse or children upon your demise.

It is never too early to start making a legacy plan. Be prepared for the unexpected, instead of leaving it to chance for things to go your way.  

By writing a Will today, you can choose to distribute your wealth, your way.

Create your iWills account now and get started on your legacy-planning journey!

2 thoughts on “What happens if one dies without a Will?”

  1. Pingback: How to get started on legacy planning in Singapore - iWills Resource Centre

  2. Pingback: When is it a good time to think about writing a will? - iWills Resource Centre

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