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Legacy planning 101

Legacy planning 101

  • 14 December 2017
  • Hin Tat Augustine & Partners

Get started on legacy planning by creating a Will and more.

Do you know what to do with your assets (think estate, valuable possessions, money etc.) in the event of your death or incapacity? How do you ensure that your loved ones are provided for? Here are some ways to begin Legacy Planning: having a Will and Trusts.


If you make a Will, upon your death, the person(s) appointed as your executor(s) to carry out your wishes as spelt out in the Will, will distribute your assets to the beneficiaries as directed in the Will. You may always write a new Will should you decide to make changes to the existing Will — such as appointing or replacing beneficiaries or changing the gifts earlier made.

A Will typically provides for:

  • The revocation of earlier Wills;
  • The appointment of your Executors/Trustees/Guardians;
  • The nomination of beneficiaries;
  • The distribution of your assets, whether general or specific;

No Will

If you do not make a Will, upon your death, your assets will be distributed in accordance with Intestate Succession Act (Cap. 146). Essentially, this Act will specify the order of priority of how your assets shall be distributed to your family members. This also means that your assets may not go to the very persons whom you intended for the assets to go to.

Manner of holding of your properties

The manner in which you hold your immovable properties, either as Joint Tenants or Tenants-in-Common will determine whether they should be included as part of your assets. Properties held as joint tenants are subject to the rule of survivorship, this means that upon a joint tenant’s death, his interest in the property will go automatically to the surviving joint tenant and if a deceased joint tenant should leave a Will to provide that his joint interest in the property will go to a person other than the surviving joint owner, such a provision in that Will is ineffective.

Properties held as tenants-in-common are not subject to the rule of survivorship. This means that upon a tenant-in-common’s death, his interest in the property will be governed by his directions in his Will, or where there is no Will, by the laws of intestacy.

Other considerations


A trust in its basic form, is an arrangement by which a person, called the Trustee, will hold assets as the legal owner for one or more beneficiaries nominated by the Settlor (the creator of the Trust). Trusts is an important tool for estate planning. It can be used to protect spendthrift beneficiaries, beneficiaries’ special needs and even for protection of assets against creditors.

Insurance policies nominations

You may nominate beneficiaries under your insurance policies. In the event of your death, nominated beneficiaries will receive the proceeds of any payouts. You may also nominate these beneficiaries via your Will, by spelling out your insurance policy details properly and naming the beneficiary of them. In the event that you have made both a nomination under the policy and by Will, the later nomination will take precedence. This does not apply to an irrevocable nomination or a trust nomination.

Advance Medical Directive (“AMD”)

An AMD is a document instructing the doctor treating you (where you are terminally ill and unconscious or incapable of making a rational decision) that you do not want any artificial means of prolonging your life. If you are 21 years and above and of sound mind, you can obtain an AMD form at any poly clinic or private clinic. It must then be signed in the presence of 2 witnesses who are not beneficiaries under your Will, one of whom must be a doctor. After which the AMD must be registered with the Registrar of Advance Medical Directives. This AMD can be revoked at any time but while it is in effect, your family members and the doctor must abide by your wishes as per the AMD and cannot refuse to carry out the AMD.

Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPOA”) under the Mental Capacity Act (Cap. 177A)

An LPOA is a legal document that allows a person who is 21 years of age or older and has the mental capacity (the “Donor”) to voluntarily appoint one or more persons (the “Donee”) to act and make decisions on his behalf for his personal welfare matters and/or property & affairs matters when he lacks mental capacity in the future.


The above does not apply to Muslim persons who are governed by Syariah Law in Singapore.


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