How to write a Will – 3 things you must get right

When making a Will in Singapore many people just google ‘How to write a Will?’ or ‘How should I make a Will?’. Really, it is more important that you get three things absolutely right if the Will is not going to be invalid.

Valid Will

The requirements for a valid Will can be found at

Every Will needs to have the following:

  1. Statement of intention to make a Will
  2. Revocation of previous Wills
  3. Appointment of executor
  4. Distribution of assets
  5. Execution (signature) of the Will.

Non fatal mistakes

Not all of the above requirements are of equal importance.

You can still have a valid Will if you make a mistake with the executor appointment eg you appoint an executor who is less than 21 years old at the time of your passing. In that case the Will is still valid but someone else may have to given the executor’s job.

However, there are three requirements that can be fatal if not properly followed.

Intention to make a Will

This is a simple enough requirement to satisfy.

Nearly every Will begins with words to the effect :

I (name of Will maker) DECLARE this to be my LAST WILL and TESTAMENT.

Different words may be used. Whatever words are chosen there must be no doubt that the person who is signing the document intends that document to be his/her last Will.

If the Will does not contain the declaration of intent for it to be a Will then it brings into doubt the intent of the person signing it.

Execution of a Will – signature

The execution of a Will is the one most important requirement that must be satisfied if the Will is to be valid.

Section 6 (1) of the Wills Act (Cap 352) says:

‘no will shall be valid unless it is in writing and executed in the manner mentioned in subsection (2)’.

So , if a Will is not properly signed it will not be valid.

In simple terms, a Will must:

  1. be signed at the end of the Will; and
  2. in the presence of at least two witnesses present at the time you sign your Will; and
  3. all witnesses must also sign your Will in your presence

If you get even one of these 3 requirements is done wrongly your Will ends up invalid.

Distribution of assets

If you name only one beneficiary and that beneficiary passes away before you there is no one to inherit  under your Will. Unless you make a new Will your existing Will ends up useless as there is no one to distribute the estate to.

Here’s an idea

It is not difficult to make sure you do not make a mistake with declaration of intent to make a Will or with distribution of assets.

It is much easier to make a mistake when it comes to executing the Will.

When making a Will in Singapore everyone should consider having the Will signed before a lawyer, even if you are making your Will yourself.

If you call around and find that you are quoted too much to have your Will witnessed there is an alternative. Try a Commissioner for Oaths. Only lawyers can be a Commissioner.

A Commissioner for Oaths is currently allowed to charge only $25 per document for attending to you for documents such as affidavits, affirmations and declarations (including statutory declarations). Try making an appointment with a Commissioner to have your signature witnessed on ‘a document’.

You need two witnesses.

So even if you have not one but two Commissioners witness your signature on your Will you cannot be charged more than $50. Try that.

28 July 2019

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