Hi, my name is John. I’m 40 years old. I’m married to Stellar, who is 35 years old. Both of us are blessed with Solomon, our 5-year old son. Presently, we are living in a semi-detached house at Rimbayu, a property that I’d bought 2 years ago. In addition, I have cash savings, EPF money, and a couple of life insurance policies. I had already nominated Stellar, my wife to be the beneficiary of my EPF and life insurance policies. Here, my question is:
‘Should I write a will by myself to leave behind my cash and property to Stellar?’
Yes, John could do so.
So, let’s imagine. What are the possible scenarios that would happen after John has written his will?
Scenario 1: John Passes Away
Let’s assume, Solomon is still a minor when it happens.
If John passes away, Stellar, his wife, shall inherit John’s EPF money and also the sum assured of his life insurance policies. Meanwhile, his cash and property will be frozen. So, if Stellar can locate John’s will, it will be a tremendous help to the administration of John’s cash and property. In view of this,
Common Mistake 1: Can Stellar locate John’s will?
If Stellar is not aware of the existence or could not locate John’s will, then, what is the point of John writing his will? It is almost as good as having no will.
Let’s move on.
Supposedly, Stellar could locate John’s will. She opens it and finds that John has not appointed an executor to executor his will. Therefore,
Common Mistake 2: Failure to Appoint an Executor in a Will
Stellar will have to apply for a Letter of Administration (LOA) with Will Annexed, which makes the estate administration process lengthier as compared to if John has appointed an executor in his will before his passing.
Scenario 2: John and Stellar Pass Away Together
Is it possible for a husband and wife duo to pass away together?
Sadly, the answer is yes. It is possible.
Common Mistake 3: Fail to Consider Simultaneous Death of Husband & Wife
So, if John and Stellar pass away together and John had nominated Stellar to be the sole beneficiary of his will, EPF money, and life insurance policies, who shall inherit John’s estate and take care of Solomon, if he is still a minor?
Will Solomon be the only beneficiary of John’s estate?
The answer is no. If John’s will cannot be located, John’s estate will be managed or administered as if John passed on without a will. Hence, John’s estates which include his life insurance policies will be distributed in the following ratio:
1/3 = John’s Surviving Parents, if any.
2/3 = Solomon
Of course, if John has no surviving parents, Solomon would be entitled to all his father’s estates as John’s only son.
Here, let’s say, John’s parents are still alive. The questions to be asked are:
1. Who shall administer Solomon’s share of the estate as he is still a minor?
2. Is it John’s parents or any other Solomon’s relatives?
3. Will Solomon receive ‘John’s estates’ after John’s parents passed on?
The issue here is not that there are no beneficiaries to John’s estates. Rather, in John’s case, he is prone to overlook the issues above when writing his own will.
Common Mistake 4: Fail to Appoint Testamentary Guardian for Solomon
Scenario 3: Stellar Pass Away Shortly After John’s Passing
Or, it could be that Stellar passes on when Solomon is still a minor.
So, imagine this.
John passed on. Stellar had inherited John’s cash, EPF money, life insurance and the semi-detached house in Rimbayu.
Then, Stellar died.
What if Stellar fails to write a will before her passing?
Common Mistake 5: Fail to Discuss with His Spouse when Writing a Will
First, all of Stellar’s estates, including the remnant of John’s estates, would then be distributed to the following beneficiaries in the following ratio:
1/3 = Stellar’s Surviving Parents, if any.
2/3 = Solomon
Thus, if I’m John, the question that I would ask is, ‘Would I be okay with leaving behind a portion of my estates to Stellar’s parents?’
Also, with the above method of distribution, the questions to be asked are:
1. Who then shall administer Solomon’s share of his mother’s estate?
2. Is it Stellar’s parents or any other Solomon’s relatives?
3. Will Solomon receive ‘John’s estates’ after Stellar’s parents passed on?
Question: Should John Write His Own Will?
If I’m John today, of course, I have the choice to write my own will. My question is this – ‘Is this the most effective method that I can do to safeguard the interest of my loved ones today?’
I doubt so.
In fact, John’s decision to write his own will could be counterproductive as John may overlook several possibilities as listed below:
1. Failure to locate his will.
2. Failure to appoint an executor to execute his will.
3. Failure to prepare for an event when both he and his wife pass on together.
4. Failure to appoint a testamentary guardian for his child.
5. Failure to discuss with his spouse when writing a will.
They have led to tons of conflicts and strife among family members, resulting in a series of confusions which arise from a will that fails to consider the above. In this light, if I really want to secure my family’s interests in the future, I would be considering the following when planning for my estates:
1. Where should I store my will? Who will have access to it if I pass on?
2. Who should I appoint to be the executor of my will?
3. Additional clauses to prepare for an event if I pass on together with my wife.
4. Who should I appoint to be the testamentary guardian of my child.
5. Discuss with my wife to formulate a complete estate plan for our family.
If I’m John, I believe it is better to engage the assistance of a professional estate planner to formulate a comprehensive estate plan for my family.
A professional estate planner is able to structure a practical and a cost-effective estate plan to help you manage and distribute your estate to your beneficiaries, while reducing complications such as described above. Let’s not be penny wise, pound foolish. Hence, if you are John today, you can start off by filling up your details below to book yourself a 30-minute consultation session with our highly professional estate planners: