Must I draw up a list of assets before making a Will?

Last week we were asked ‘Do I need to completely list out the property (sic) to you when making a will?’

This question has come up before. It is time we discuss this more instead of just putting the answer in our FAQ section.

No need for a list of assets

Some people will advise that you need to draw up a list of your assets before you start making your Will.  We do not see any point in doing this.

The original reason for asking if you know what your assets is a result of the test for capacity as stated in the English case of Banks v Goodfellow (please see : https://ezwills.com.sg/valid-will/).  Basically to have capacity to make a Will a person must understand what his or her property or assets are.

Online Wills

To do an online Will you answer a series of questions and follow directions in order to generate a Will. If you can do that can there be any doubt that you have capacity?

At EzWills we do not need to know what your assets are.

We are not involved in selling life insurance or wealth management services or anything else. What properties you own or what bank accounts you have is of no use to us.

If you can answer all of the questions and finished doing your Will that is enough.

Specific bequests or gifts

The only reason why you may wish to draw up a list of your assets is if you plan to distribute your assets item by item.

However, we advise against making too many specific gifts or bequests (please see: https://ezwills.com.sg/will-making-tips/avoid-too-many-specific-gifts/) as these have a tendency to fail.

However, if you have family heirlooms (eg grandmother’s Peranakan jewellery) that you wish to pass on in your Will that may be different.

Where there are no specific bequests or gifts

If you are not planning to make specific gifts or bequests in your will or plan to simply divide the entire estate between a number of beneficiaries as a whole (equally or unequally) a list of assets is of no use.

After you have done your Will if you wish to draw up a list of assets to help your executor locate your assets in future that makes sense. Drawing up a list before making a Will makes no sense.

Harold Carr

Harold Carr, a former army surgeon, left the contents of a lock-up garage to his family when he died in 2007 aged 89. He never married and had no children.

His beneficiaries were 8 immediate family members. His nephew said : “We knew he has some cars, but we had no idea what they were.” When they opened the garage door they found the car in the above picture. It is a very rare 1937 Bugatti Type 57A Atalante. One of only 17 ever made.

Carr had bought the vehicle in 1955 for £895  –  about £15,500 today. He drove it for a while then parked it in his garage in 1960. See: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/tyne/7807210.stm.

Carr’s car was sold at Bonham’s auction in Feb 2009 for USD3.4 million!

Why is this relevant?

Carr’s Will did NOT mention a  ‘1937 Bugatti Type 57A Atalante’.

That’s right the car was not listed as a specific gift in his Will. No one knew what was in his garage until they opened the door.

So if you are planning to do your Will and intend to list some specific gifts and you have a rare collectable car then knock yourself out giving it away in your Will.

However, if the car disappears before you pass away there will be some very upset beneficiaries.

It will be quite the opposite of 8 family members left the contents of a garage not knowing what was inside.

Don’t forget to visit our site (https://ezwills.com.sg) after reading this post.

3rd March 2019