After so many years of hard work, you can finally move on to the next phase of your life —your Silver Years. Pat yourself on the back, because you deserve it!
However, before you get ready to enjoy this stage of your life, there are some things you should do to ensure that you are prepared for the unexpected, and that your family will be taken care of come what may.
Planning for the unexpected is crucial because it ensures that your family is not left in the lurch should you unexpectedly pass away or become incapacitated in some way. A bit of planning can save your loved ones from the stress of financial and moral uncertainty, so it’s well worth the effort.
Write a will
It is never too early to write a will, and it does not have to be expensive or costly either. In fact, you can write one in the comfort of your own home.
There are numerous things you can do with a will, including the following:
- Distribute your assets to beneficiaries according to your wishes.
- Indicate how your debts and other liabilities are to be paid off before the distribution of assets takes place.
- Appoint the executor to your will, who can be a family member and/or one of the beneficiaries.
- Appoint guardians for your children and/or for their assets if they are still young.
- Appoint advisors such as lawyers and accountants who can assist in the execution of your will.
Make sure you identify your assets as clearly and as specifically as possible, identify your beneficiaries clearly by name and indicate the exact proportion or amounts to be given to each one. Ambiguous wills can often lead to family disputes, so you want to be as explicit as possible and leave no room for doubt.
There are some criteria a will must fufil before it is valid in the eyes of the law, including the following:
- You must be of sound mind.
- The will must be committed to writing.
- You must sign at the bottom of the will in the presence of two or more witnesses who are present at the same time.
- The two witnesses must also sign the will in your presence.
- The two witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of your will or married to any of the beneficiaries.
As you can see, one of the requirements is that you be "of sound mind". That means that if you are senile or suffering from a mental illness, any will you make might not be valid. That is one reason why it is better not to wait until old age to write a will.
There is no need to engage a lawyer to write up a will for you, although you might nonetheless want to consider doing so if your will is extremely complicated.
Make a CPF nomination
The money in your CPF accounts cannot be distributed using a will. You will have to make a CPF nomination with the CPF Board in order to designate how you would like your CPF savings to be distributed.
You can make a CPF nomination by making an appointment and then turning up in person at a CPF Service Centre.
CPF Nominations can also be made by post. First download the CPF Nomination Form from the CPF Board's website and sign it in the presence of two witness aged 21 and above. At least one of them must be a Singaporean, PR or official from a Singapore Overseas Mission. Then, send the form by post to the CPF Board with a copy of your NRIC or Passport, and well as those of both your witnesses.
While you can distribute the CPF savings in all of your CPF accounts in this way, note that a CPF Nomination does not cover any cash and investments still held in your CPF Investment Account if you have chosen to invest your CPF money.
Nominate nominees for your insurance policies
If you have life insurance, personal accident insurance or health insurance with death benefits, you will want to ensure that the payouts go to the right people.
To do so, you can make an Insurance Nomination. There are two ways to do so--one is by making an irrevocable trust nomination that you can no longer change your mind about. The other is to make a revocable nomination, which you can later change.
Your insurer should be able to provide you with the forms needed to make a nomination.
Prepare a Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints someone you trust to take care of you and your financial affairs should you one day lose your mental capacity.
You can appoint this person to make decisions relating to your personal welfare, as well as to your property and affairs.
You can prepare your Lasting Power of Attorney by filling up either Form 1 on the Public Guardian's website. You will then need to have a doctor, lawyer or psychiatrist sign your form as Certificate Issuer. Then, submit the completed form to the Public Guardian by post.
Advance Medical Directive
This is a legal document declaring that you do not wish to be kept alive using life-sustaining treatment if you become terminally ill and unconscious, and where death is imminent. Signing an Advance Medical Directive can ensure that your family is not compelled to keep you alive when you are in a vegetative state.
You can make an Advance Medical Directive simply by downloading this form and signing in the presence of two witnesses above the age of 21, one of whom must be your doctor.
Making plans for your own funeral might sound a bit premature, but it can actually save your family from a lot of stress when you pass away.
Other than specifying any details you wish to apply at your funeral, you can also indicate in your will that your funeral is to be funded using the money you leave behind before the remainder is distributed to your beneficiaries.
One detail you might want to flesh out is what type of funeral you wish to have. If you or your family are religious, you will have to decide whether you wish to have a ceremony in accordance with religious or ethnic customs.
You might also want to pick your eulogists or those in charge of performing religious rites or delivering speeches or sermons at your funeral.
Another consideration is whether or not to donate your organs. All Singaporeans aged 21 and above who are not mentally disordered can potentially become organ donors upon death unless they opt out as a donor under the Human Organ Transplant Act. If, for religious or other reasons, you do not wish to donate your organs, you should opt out by submitting the relevant objection form to the National Organ Transplant Unit.
Source: OCBC Bank Website. Reproduced with permission. View original source.