Kith & Kin

What happens if you die without a will

wilted flowers for someone who died without will

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

In Singapore, if you die without a will, the rules of intestacy will determine how your estate will be distributed among your family. This will also be the case if you made a will that was subsequently declared invalid. So it is important that you do proper will writing while you still have the capacity to do so.

Although dying without will (also known as Bona Vacantia) is not going to prevent certain family members from receiving their share in your assets, the recipients and the distribution will be in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act.

What if you die without a will?

Without a rightful person to access your accounts, no action can take place, so your assets are frozen. It is then up to your closest relative or next of kin to apply to the courts for Letters of Administration. With this court order, your relative can now collect your assets, pay your creditors, and distribute the estate to lawful beneficiaries.

How will the assets be distributed upon dying without will?

The law provides the following rules for distribution if you die without a will:

  1. If you have a surviving spouse, no children, no descendants of deceased children and no parent, your spouse shall be entitled to 100% of your estate.
  2. If you have a surviving spouse and children, your spouse shall be entitled to one-half of your estate. 
  3. If you have children, your estate will be divided among them, subject to the rights of your surviving spouse. In case any of your children had already died, they will be represented by their descendants (if any).
  4. If you have a surviving spouse, no children but with a parent or parents, your spouse shall be entitled to one-half of your estate and your parent or parents to the other half
  5. Without a surviving spouse and children, your parent or parents will receive your estate, in equal portions.
  6. Without a surviving spouse, children or parents, your brothers and sisters will all share your estate in equal portions among them. The children of any deceased brother or sister will take the share of the deceased sibling.
  7. Without a spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters or children of such brothers and sisters, your surviving grandparents will take the whole of the estate in equal portions.
  8. Without a spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters or their children or grandparents, your uncles and aunts will share the estate in equal portions.
  9. Without any surviving relative specified above, the Government will be entitled to your entire estate.

It is important to note, however, that the Intestate Succession Act does not apply to Muslims dying without will. In this case, what if you die without a will?  In Singapore, the distribution of the property of a deceased Muslim is governed by Muslim law and the Syariah Court.

Clearly, will writing allows you to express your wishes when it comes to the distribution of your assets upon your death. So then, what if you die without a will? Dying without will warrants the Government to make the decisions for you, and in the end, they may be the one benefitting from your estate.

If you would like to be able to have a say on how your estate is distributed or if you want to bequeath part of your estate to individuals not related to you, make sure that you write a will. You can also consider setting up a living trust fund vs will.

In most cases, it will be helpful to have a professional’s advice.

Writing a will without a lawyer may be perfectly acceptable, and you can easily search online for a particular will writing format based on your needs.  However, a  lawyer will be able to provide you with valuable legal insights that will allow you to prepare the most suitable estate plan for you.

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.

Should you want professional help in writing a will, send us a message today.