Leaving nothing to a spouse in your Will

When writing a Will Singapore law requires a Will Maker to leave something for the spouse of the Will Maker.

Inheritance Family Provision Act (Cap. 138)

The Inheritance Family Provision Act allows a person who is a Will Maker’s :

  • spouse;
  • unmarried daughter (regardless of age):
  • infant son; or
  • disabled son or daughter who is incapable of maintaining himself/herself

to challenge a Will that does not make reasonable provision for his/her maintenance.

So leaving a spouse absolutely nothing means a spouse can challenge the Will.

Likewise if a person does not leave enough in his/her Will for a disabled child to maintain himself/herself that child can also apply to court for a greater share of the estate.

Do not assume your spouse does not need to be provided for

We suspect some people assume that their spouse does not need to be provided for because he/she is working and will be fine.

It may be that some also assume a surviving spouse will be able to manage because he/she has a very high paying job.

These assumptions can so easily turn out to be a bad mistake.

Assets and liabilities

Some joint assets of a couple will end up with the surviving spouse and some may not.

However, the largest debt a couple has is usually the home loan. On the death of one spouse the surviving spouse ends up having to take over the entire loan.

If there is no life or mortgage reducing insurance to cover the loss of income of one spouse the surviving spouse may be unable to keep up the mortgage payments alone.

If that happens the surviving spouse may be forced to sell the family home if he/she is left with nothing in the Will.

Then again some people think it is a good idea to leave nothing to the spouse and split their estate between the children. A spouse who is left nothing in the estate and is short of cash or unable to manage cannot just take the children’s share for himself or herself. Those funds belong to the children. So a spouse in that situation will be left with no choice but to make a court application.

Assumptions may be flawed

What if you and your spouse have a road accident and you pass away as a result but you leave nothing to your spouse in your Wil?

What if, unlike you, your spouse survives the accident but is disabled and cannot work?

Having a high paying job then is meaningless if you cannot work.

If you leave nothing to your spouse because you assume he/she will be able to manage without getting anything in your Will and circumstances change there could be real problems.

A surviving spouse unable to manage will have no choice but to apply to court to challenge your Will in order to get a share of your estate. Expensive legal fees would have to be spent.

So please think carefully if leaving your spouse nothing in your Will is a good idea.

 

22 July 2019

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