Having one of the highest life expectancies in the world in 2018 coupled with decreasing birth rates, Singapore is currently dealing with an increasingly ageing population. In 2017, Singapore had the lowest fertility rate in the world with only 0.83 children per woman. And it is estimated that by 2035, about 32% of Singaporeans will be aged 65 and above. The reality on this small island is that most people are not planning to have children. So, what are the appropriate estate planning measures that concern them?
What are the 5 estate planning tips for people without children?
A will is important with or without children because it is a legal document that helps you name a list of beneficiaries to inherit your estate, as per your wishes. For couples without kids, it is even more important to have a will because they do not have natural heirs to inherit their estate. Generally, when a married person dies, their estate will go to their spouse. But what happens if both you and your spouse pass away at the same time? When a couple does not have a will, then the probate court will decide who gets to inherit their estate. When this happens, you do not have the option to leave any of your assets to your extended family, your friends, or your favourite charity.
2) Get a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
An LPA is someone who will be making important decisions on your behalf if you no longer have the mental capacity to do so. They can help make decisions for your medical care, property matters, and manage your existing financial assets, should you and your spouse become incapacitated. If you fail to designate an LPA, then your family members will need to go through the trouble of applying at a family court to secure authority. More importantly, you would want someone you can trust to make the decisions for you and sometimes that might not be your next of kin.
3) Keep an updated inventory record of your assets
You should always review your inventory of assets to ensure that they are up-to-date. This is to make sure that your representative does not face any trouble confirming your assets once you have passed away. When updating the inventory record of your assets, you should also update your will by removing outdated instructions, adding new instructions, or updating your list of beneficiaries. Once you have updated your record of assets, you should also inform your representative of the changes.
4) Consider a charity organisation
If you have no children to leave your assets to, you can also leave your assets to an organisation that you are passionate about. This can also mean your alma maters or your religious institutions. You can bequeath your assets to a foundation that can disburse your funds in accordance with the community’s needs (a variety of charitable organisations) or you can also choose to draft a clause in your will that leaves a specific amount to charity. However, it is important that you clearly state the name of the charitable organisation that you wish to leave your assets to.
5) Plan for your pet
If you and your spouse own a pet that you love as much as you would a child, do know that you can plan for your pet too. While the chances of your pet outliving you are small, it can still happen. Who then will take care of your pet when you are gone? When planning for your estate, you can choose a new pet owner for your pet after your passing. You can also add provisions for pet care in your will such as stating that the cash gift would only apply if the beneficiary agrees to take care of your pet. You can also establish a pet trust or write a letter of instruction explaining how to care for your pet in your will.
Planning ahead is extremely important. Just because you are not expecting or planning to grow a family does not mean that you should not think about life after death. If you want your final wishes to be heard and followed, you should start drafting your will or engage with a Financial Adviser that can help you with your estate planning. If you wish to learn more about will writing and other probate solutions, visit Probate Enterprise.