Kith & Kin

Can I include conditions in my will?

question mark neon signage for conditions

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

Even after your passing, you can encourage someone to do or not do something through the conditions you set forth in your will. Through your will, not only can you designate the beneficiaries to your assets, but you can also leave conditions before they receive their inheritance.

Be that as it may, there are general rules that need to be followed when it comes to conditional gifts that are included in your will writing in Singapore. For your conditions to be valid, they have to be clear, legal, and possible. Otherwise, your condition is declared void and the courts may have to decide on what to do with the asset.

Having written your will, you may already know the answer to the question of ‘what if you die without a will?’, but adding invalid conditions to your will may very well lead to similar problems.

In writing a will, here are some issues that render a conditional bequest invalid:

1. Impossible conditions

If a beneficiary has to complete a task or achieve a certain state for them to receive a gift, it must be possible and within their control. For example, you can stipulate that you would bequeath property to someone if they attend your funeral (provided they are capable of doing so).

On the other hand, it would be an impossible condition if you ask that they visit the moon before they can receive your gift.

Other conditions may be impossible to perform if the intended beneficiaries are limited by the circumstances, like funds or physical capacity, or when you are giving away the same item twice.

2. Uncertain conditions

A condition will be uncertain if the language is too vague or if the wording is clear but a court would have difficulty in enforcing the condition. This is why it is important to pay attention to your word choices when you are doing your will writing.

Following are examples of conditions that are too uncertain to be applied by the courts:

  • a condition not to associate with specified relatives
  • a condition to retain or assume a particular surname
  • a condition requiring a beneficiary to reside in a particular location to receive annual payments

3. Conditions against public policy

To say that a condition is contrary to public policy is when it is immoral, illegal, or harmful to the public good. If you are doing your will writing in Singapore, these include encouraging someone to commit a crime, requiring an intended beneficiary to separate from their spouse, or requiring a child to change their religion.

Keep in mind though that as society evolves, public policies may also change. So when it comes to will writing, make sure that the conditions you include are abiding by the public policies of the present times.

4. The court’s discretion

In general, the courts will take your intentions into account in terms of honouring the conditions to your will. However, the law surrounding conditions in will writing in Singapore and in most places can be very complicated. As such, conditions can be declared void depending on the circumstances.

Your beneficiaries can then ask the courts to set the conditions aside where it would be unreasonable to comply with them. If this happens and the courts declare a condition void, there are several consequences. Depending on the type of asset and the condition you have stipulated, the courts may order for a property to be part of the residuary estate or they can uphold the gift.

Will writing in Singapore

To ensure that the conditions can be upheld upon your death, proper will writing is necessary. You may also want to consider how to find an executor for your will.

With all these considerations you may find yourself asking whether ‘do I need a lawyer to write a will’, or searching online to discover ‘how to write my own will’. While it is not necessary to enlist the help of a lawyer, they can provide valuable legal insights, especially if you wish to include conditions in your will.

Here at Kith & Kin Law Corporation, we offer expert advice on Will Writing Singapore with the conviction to provide the best approach based on our client’s personal circumstances and needs.

If you would like professional advice for the conditions in your will, send us a message so we can review them with you.