Wealth Succession Planning

What is Succession Planning? What is a Will? What happens when there is no will?

Wealth Succession Planning

When a person passes on, properties under his name will be passed on to his successors. Who are the successors? It depends on will when there is one, and in the absence of the same, in accordance to Singapore Intestate Succession Act.  


A will provides for the administration and distribution of a person’s estate when he dies.

Valid Will must be in writing, signed by Testator, and witnessed by at least 2 persons who must be present at the same time, and not beneficiaries nor spouse of any of the beneficiaries under the Will. The Testator appoints an Executor to administer his estate. When the Testator passes on, the Executor will apply to Court for Grant of Probate. Court will issue the Grant once all procedural requirements are met. Once Grant of Probate is issued, the Will becomes a public document, and the Executors will get a copy. Executors will administer and distribute the Testator’s assets according to the Will.

Testator is the person who makes a will. Beneficiaries are persons who benefit/inherit the will. If there are minors (persons under the age of 21), trustee will administer assets for the benefit of the minors. Trustee is usually the same person as executor, person who has the power to hold the estate of the deceased.

What happens if there is no will?

If there is no will, deceased assets’ will be distributed according to the Intestate Succession Act. Deceased’s next-of-kin will apply to the Court for Grant of Letter of Administration instead of Grant of Probate. Letter of Administration is a legal document that authorizes the applicant to be the administrator of the deceased’s estate, and administer, and distribute the estate according to the Intestate Succession Act. The process is more tedious and requires lengthy time to process.

Intestate Succession Act rules for distribution

Rule Surviving Relatives Beneficiary
1 Spouse (no Parents or Children) Spouse 100%
2 Spouse and Children Spouse 50%, Children 50% to be shared
3 Spouse and Parents (no children) Spouse 50%, Parents 50%
4 Parents (no spouse or children) Parents 100%
5 Siblings (no spouse, children, or parents) Siblings 100%
6 Grandparents (no spouse, children or parents) Grandparents
7 Uncles and Aunts (no spouse, children, parents, siblings or grandparents) Uncles and Aunts 100%
8 None of the above Government of Singapore 100%

Estate Duty

Estate Duty, or sometimes called death duty is a tax levied on the market value of properties (both movable and immovable) that pass upon the death of the person domiciled in Singapore. It was abolished on 15 February 2008.

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