Did you know that the topic surrounding will writing is still considered taboo to some Singaporeans? Because when we talk about wills, we are bound to touch on sensitive topics such as death. And according to a 2017 news report by the Straits Times, an expert estimated that no more than 10-15% of Singaporeans have made their wills.

But regardless of how the public perceives it, the topic of will writing is still and will always be important. Before we dive deeper and discuss what would happen if you were to pass away without a will, click here if you want to have a clearer understanding of wills and why you need them.

What would happen to your assets if you pass away without a will?

With a will, you get to distribute your property and ensure that your loved ones are well taken care of. But when you fail to prepare a will before your passing, you won’t have a say in how your assets will be distributed. So, who will decide that for you?

1) Your assets will be frozen

With or without a will, your assets will be frozen. The difference is that when there is no will, then your assets will be frozen for a longer period of time. What this means is that money cannot be taken in or out of your bank accounts, your property cannot be sold and securities cannot be dealt with.

2) Unfreezing the assets

To unfreeze the assets, the next-of-kin, usually the spouse or the eldest child, must appoint a probate lawyer to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. This will allow the next-of-kin to become the personal administrator of the estate. According to the Intestate Succession Act, these people are entitled to apply for the Letters of Administration, in order of priority:

  • spouse
  • children
  • parents
  • brothers and sisters
  • nephews and nieces
  • grandparents
  • uncles and aunts

3) The administrator will pay off debts

The administrator will prepare a list of all your assets after your passing and use them to pay off your debts, outstanding taxes, and loans such as bank loans, credit cards, and subscriptions.

4) The assets will be distributed to the surviving family members

Lastly, your assets will be distributed to your family members according to the Intestate Succession Act. How the assets will be distributed greatly depends on your status—whether you were married or had children.

Understanding the rules of the Intestate Succession Act

If you pass away without a will, Singapore’s rules on intestate succession, as outlined in section 7 of the Intestate Succession Act, will decide for you how your assets will be distributed.

Surviving MembersEntitlement
Parents only
– No spouse/children
Parents 100%
Parents and spouse 
– No children
Parents 50%, Spouse 50%
Spouse only
– No parents/children
Spouse 100%
Spouse and children
– Regardless of parents
Spouse 50%, Children 50%
Parents and children
– No spouse
Children 100%
Brother and sister
– No spouse/children/parents
Brother and sister 100%
– No children/spouse/parents/brothers and sisters
Grandparents 100%
Uncles and aunts
– No children/spouse/parents/brothers and sisters/grandparents
Uncles and aunts 100%
None of the aboveGovernment 100%

As stated in the table above, this is how your assets will be distributed if you pass away without having a will. When this happens, you will have no say in how your assets are divided. Therefore, it is advisable to prepare for life after death as soon as possible to ensure that your assets and wealth are distributed as per your wish.

It is important to note that this Intestate Succession Act does not apply to Muslims as the property distributions for Muslims is governed by Muslim law and the Syariah Court.

For more information about will writing, do look out for our public workshop.

The workshop on “Practical Considerations When Drafting Your Will” will be conducted via a Zoom meeting. The same workshop can be delivered in Mandarin as well. Stay tuned for more workshops in the coming months from our team at Probate Enterprise.

Learn more about will writing and get the ideal probate solutions for you at Probate Enterprise.