SINGAPORE ESTATE PLANNING MADE EASY
Estate planning is a necessary process that everyone should go through.
It can be easy to put off, but it’s essential to have a plan in place in case something happens to you. Taking the time to plan your estate now can save your loved ones a lot of heartache and stress later.
If you need a Will or need to update your estate planning documents, now is the time to take action.
Use this checklist to start estate planning or review your current plans.
Make a Will – This is the most important estate planning document because it ensures your wishes are carried out and your loved ones are provided for.
- Without a Will, the law will distribute your assets, which may not be your wish.
- Without a Will, your loved ones may have to go to court to resolve disputes over your assets, which is expensive and time-consuming. Therefore, it is vital to take the time to create a Will that accurately reflects your wishes.
People often write their own Wills. Even though you can do it without a lawyer, working with an experienced one is strongly recommended. A lawyer will ensure that your papers are foolproof and protect you and your family from long court probates.
Choosing an executor – An executor is responsible for managing the distribution of assets in an estate. The executor doesn’t have to be a lawyer. Your children, a family member, or a close friend can all take on this role. Once you’ve chosen an executor, you should introduce them to your lawyer, even if they won’t have to work together for years or decades. And remember that you can always change who will carry out your wishes.
Naming your beneficiaries – It is essential to name who will get your assets. It would be best to designate a beneficiary for every asset you own. This ensures that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes in the event of your death.
2. Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that appoints a trusted third party to decide on your behalf if you become incapacitated.
When people lose their mental capacity, they can no longer make their own decisions and must rely on others. This situation can be challenging for both the individual and their loved ones.
Without an LPA, your family must file a court petition to gain access to and control of your assets and finances. However, the court application process can be costly and time-consuming, and there is no assurance that the court will grant your family members control.
By executing an LPA, you can ensure that your wishes are carried out swiftly and efficiently if you become incapable.
3. Advance Medical Directive
It’s essential to ensure that family members and friends know your medical treatment wishes before a healthcare crisis takes these decisions out of your hands.
An Advance Medical Directive (AMD),a Living Will, is a legal document you sign when you are mentally competent. This document expresses your wishes to the medical team treating you, regarding the use of extraordinary life-sustaining treatments when you are terminally ill, mentally incompetent or unconscious. By signing this document, you are giving your medical team the authority to make decisions about your care based on your expressed wishes. This can be a valuable tool in ensuring your wishes are followed if you cannot communicate them yourself.
Making an AMD is entirely optional, and you can revoke the AMD at any time.
It is essential to understand the difference between an AMD and euthanasia. Euthanasia is the deliberate ending of the life of a person suffering from an incurable and painful disease. An AMD instructs your doctor not to proceed with extraordinary life-sustaining treatment and allows you to die naturally when you become terminally ill and unconscious while minimising suffering through palliative care and medication.
4. Creating A “Need to Know” File
Once you’ve made these critical decisions, it’s important to communicate them to those who will be most impacted.
By creating a comprehensive “Need to Know” file, you can make it easy for them to access the information they need to carry out your wishes.
Your “Need to Know” should include your wishes for medical care, funeral arrangements, and other vital instructions.
It is essential to keep this file current, as your wishes may change over time. Making these decisions in advance can help ease the burden on your loved ones during a difficult time.
It also helps ensure that your wishes are carried out precisely as you desire.
FINAL TIP: Your estate plan must evolve because your life circumstances are ever-evolving. Your Will and estate plan should be reviewed once every 3 to 5 years or whenever a major life change, like marriage or purchasing a property.