Wills and Probate

Wills and Probate

It is important to plan one’s estate comprehensively to ensure that one’s assets will be distributed upon death according to one’s wishes and to avoid any potential trouble for, or dispute between, one’s loved ones.

Our team at Wilberforce TJC Law Corporation works closely with our clients to preserve their legacy and protect their assets in different parts of the world. We work together with our network and partners in Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Myanmar, India, Taiwan, Japan and other countries around the world in advising and assisting our clients in their estate planning including preparation of their wills, addressing any concerns regarding their wills, and assisting in applications for a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration, whether in Singapore or overseas.

The Importance of Will

A will is a legal document containing an individual’s wishes and intents that would take effect upon his/her death, and which must comply with all the relevant legal requirements to be valid. A will can be revoked and remade at any time according to the procedure prescribed by law so long as the individual making the will possesses mental capacity. As a general rule, a person should make a will in every jurisdiction where he/she has substantial assets to prevent complications arising from the validity or recognition of the will. Further, a will should be reviewed and updated when an individual’s life circumstances have changed, for instance, when there is a change in the individual’s marital status.

The following are some of the essential benefits of drawing up a clear and valid will:

  • The existence of a will provides certainty as to the intended beneficiaries and the specific distribution of the assets to each beneficiary.
  • A will prevents disputes between family members, which may lead to lengthy and costly court proceedings.
  • A will allows you to appoint your desired executor or executors to execute your will and distribute your assets according to your stated wishes in your will.
  • It is advisable to have a lawyer advise on and draft your will as certain assets are not distributable under a will and a “do-it-yourself” will may be invalid for failing to comply with relevant requirements.
  • If you did not make a will or your will is invalid, the intestacy laws in the state or country that you are domiciled in will usually determine the distribution of your assets.
  • Without leaving a valid will, your intended beneficiaries may not be able to receive their rightful inheritance or may not be adequately provided for when you are no longer around to take care of them.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)

The LPA is a legal document which allows an individual who is at least 21 years of age (“Donor”) to voluntarily appoint one or more trusted persons (“Donee”) to make decisions and act on his/her behalf should he/she lose mental capacity one day. Donees may be appointed to act in the two broad areas of one’s personal welfare and/or property & affairs matters.

Under an LPA, a Donor can also give specific instructions to his/her Donee(s) on how he/she is to be cared for and how his/her property and financial affairs are to be conducted in the event that he/she becomes mentally incapacitated.

Benefits of an LPA include:

  • Enables an individual to make a personal, considered choice of appointing one or more trusted decision maker to act in his/her best interests should he/she lose mental capacity one day. 
  • Allows an individual to give specific instructions to his/her Donee(s) regarding his/her care and the handling of his/her property and financial affairs in the event that he/she becomes mentally incapacitated – this does not leave his/her loved ones to have to figure out potentially difficult decisions themselves. 
  • Avoids the need for loved ones to apply to Court for a Deputyship order, which can be stressful especially if the loved ones cannot agree on who should be the Deputy or Deputies if the individual loses mental capacity without a registered LPA. 
  • Saves costs and time, as the costs of making a LPA is merely a fraction of the costs of applying to Court for a Deputyship order and the time to activate a registered LPA is much less than the time required to apply to Court for a Deputyship order.

Probate and Administration

Probate and administration is the legal process of appointing someone to deal with the deceased’s estate, which includes their assets, money, property and possessions as well as their liabilities, either according to the terms of the deceased’s will (if he/she left behind a valid will) or according to the laws of intestacy in the absence of a valid will. Without a valid will, there may be disputes over who should be the administrator of the estate and this may lead to unnecessary and avoidable court proceedings.

The application to Court and obtaining of a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration, as the case may be, is the first step in the probate and administration process that also includes locating and determining the value of the deceased’s assets, paying his/her debts and expenses, and distributing the remaining estate to his/her rightful beneficiaries.

As probate and administration can be a difficult and time-consuming process, especially if some of the assets are in other countries, you need a legal expert who can assist and guide you in every step along the way.

At Wilberforce TJC Law Corporation, with our extensive networks in China and Indonesia, we are particularly experienced in assisting clients in Singapore in probate matters relating to assets in China and Indonesia. We have also assisted international clients in probate matters relating to their loved one’s assets in Singapore. Examples of such of our successful past cases include:

  • Singaporean clients whose father left them various land parcels and landed properties in China required our assistance in ensuring proper legal transfer and registration of ownership of the land and properties in China. We provided one-stop services for all necessary legal documentation required by the Chinese authorities, including legal document drafting, notarisation and legalisation of the legal documents in Singapore and communication with the local Chinese authorities and agent.
  • Indonesian client whose father left assets in Singapore to him needed our assistance in the entire probate application process in Singapore. We successfully managed every aspect of the Court proceedings in Singapore to ensure the client’s interest in his father’s estate was recognised and protected.

Contact us to discuss your legal needs relating to:

  • Wills
  • LPAs; and
  • Probate and Administration.