This blog will be helpful for individuals who are oblivious about what will happen to their assets if they die without a will in Singapore. The blog also helps educate people about the situations or circumstances their family members might encounter if an individual dies without a will in Singapore.

How are your assets distributed after death?

The distribution of your assets depends entirely on whether or not the deceased has left a will behind for determining the course of action. A will refers to a legal document that communicates the deceased person’s instructions, stating who will inherit their assets.      

Therefore, if the deceased leaves behind a valid will, the estate and other assets are distributed according to the directions in the will. 

If the deceased does not leave a will behind in Singapore, they have died “intestate”. In such events, the Intestate Succession Act states out how the estate will be distributed. The members of the family will inherit all assets in portions as described by the Intestate Succession Act.

There are certain situations where the deceased might have a will, but the will was not written or done correctly and is hence declared invalid by the court. In these events, the assets will fall into intestacy.

Let’s take a closer look at the five things that can happen to the deceased’s assets if they pass away without a will.

5 Things will happen to the assets if a person dies without a Will? 

  • The Assets are frozen.

The first thing to happen is that the decade’s assets will be frozen as the person is no longer present to deal with their assets. Family members cannot take money out from their bank accounts. They also cannot sell properties, and securities cannot be dealt with. To gain access to the individual’s assets, the deceased’s next-of-kin needs to apply to the court to obtain Letters Of Administration.

  • The next of Kin must apply for Letters of Administration for unfreezing all Assets.

To apply for the Letters Of Administration, the deceased’s immediate next-of-kin needs to appoint a specialist probate lawyer to obtain the Grant Of Letters Of Administration. It is a court order appointing the next-of-kin as a Personal Administrator of the estate. The Personal Administrator has essential duties such as collecting all aforementioned assets, paying debts, and distributing the rest to the lawful beneficiaries.

As per the Intestate Succession Act, the below-listed people are entitled to apply for the Letters Of Administration:

    • Spouse
    • Children
    • Parents
    • Brothers And Sisters
    • Nephews and Nieces
    • Grandparents
    • Uncles and Aunts

Based on the order of priority, if the deceased’s children wish to be Administrator(s), the deceased’s surviving spouse must renounce the right to apply to Letters Of Administration.

  • The Administrator will use the assets to pay off the debts.

Another common situation involves the Administrator gathering an accurate list of all the deceased’s assets and using them to pay off the person’s debts, loans, and outstanding taxes.

  • The Assets will be distributed to the surviving family members.

The Intestate Succession Act decides the distribution of the deceased’s estate assets if no will is left behind. It includes bank accounts, securities, real estate, and all other investments owned by the deceased at the time of death after paying tax and other debts.

If a person dies without a will in Singapore, the division of the estate assets depends on whether they are single or married or with children.

  • The Intestate Succession Act determines how much every beneficiary will inherit.

Section 7 of Singapore’s Intestate Succession Act determines the division of the deceased’s assets among their survivors in cases when there is no will present. The Administrator of the estate must adhere to the Rules of Inheritance.

Take a look at them:

  1. If the deceased has only a spouse (no children, no parents): The spouse gets everything.
  2. If the deceased has a spouse and children: The spouse and the children receive the assets in half equal proportions.
  3. If the deceased has only children, no spouse: Children receive everything in equal shares.
  4. If the deceased has a spouse and parents (no children): The spouse gets half and parents the other half in equal proportions.
  5. If the deceased has only parents (no spouse, no children): Parents receive everything in equal shares.
  6. If the deceased has only brothers and sisters (no parents, no children, no spouses): Brothers and sisters (or the children of deceased brother and sister) receive all assets in equal shares.
  7. If the deceased has grandparents (no spouses, no children, no parents, brothers and sisters, children of the deceased brothers and sisters): The grandparents receive everything in equal shares.
  8. If the deceased has uncles and aunts (no spouses, no children, no parents, brothers and sisters, children of the deceased brothers and sisters, no grandparents): Uncles and aunts receive everything equally.

What Happens to Your Digital Assets 

Digital assets involve anything and everything, not intangible, physical form such as: 

  1. Social Media Accounts

If the deceased has social media accounts, an immediate family member or executor must provide a copy of their death certificate to close all social media accounts after their demise. If the death certificate is unavailable, they must submit one document of proof of authority for social media accounts closure, including the power of attorney, birth certificate, last will or estate, a memorial card or an obituary.

Transforming social media accounts into Memorialised Accounts

The deceased’s social media accounts can be transferred into a “memorialised account” that allows friends to view and leave posts on the deceased’s profile. The word “Remembering” gets attached to the deceased’s name on their social media accounts.

  1. Cryptocurrencies

Digital assets such as cryptocurrency have value and must be reported as part of the deceased’s estate. Though currently not treated as currency, and instead valued as goods, they can still be valued for a large sum.

Transferring digital assets is relatively easy in the event of the holder’s passing. Beneficiaries are required to produce a death certificate to retrieve the cryptocurrency holder’s assets, as well as their digital wallet passcode to move the cryptocurrency account into estate administration.

However, if the cryptocurrency owner dies without a will, their crypto assets might be disposed of upon death. In some cases, this can result in extra taxation on the estate as well as a hefty capital gain.

Trust Vs Will Singapore

Lighthouse Legacy Planners offer trust and will planning services that help clients pass on their legacy to their families and future generations. We call ourselves legacy builders as our vision involves building value-driven legacies for our clients that pass on their assets, visions, and ideals to their family members and future generations.