Writing a will is something anyone can do with testamentary freedom, even if your assets are not in the multi-million sphere you can still create your last will and testament, but before you start doing so here are a few things you need to get a full grasp of.
What Testamentary Freedom & Revoking Means In Writing A Will
1. Your Testamentary Freedom
In writing a will, you generally have the testamentary freedom to distribute or dispose of your property according to your wishes. Under the Wills Act section 3, it is stated that you have the power to devise, bequeath, or dispose of through your will, execute in any manner according to the Act, all property real estate or personal. This is of course provided that you are entitled to it either by the law or through equity at the time of your death.
But as you may have read in our other estate planning topics, there are instances when you don’t always get to decide how your property will be handed out after you die. Here the three instances that wreck your plans in distributing your property:
- Forced Heirship – the huge pain in the wealth pocket, there are countries which implement forced heirship, which means you can’t disinherit your unfilial son or daughter. Muslims also have rules in the way their estates are going to be disposed of, and it is also under the forced heirship scenario.
- Civil law predominance – countries like those in continental Europe, South America, Indonesia, China, Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Philippines and others follow a civil law format which is basically dictates who can get your estate. Countries like Thailand put parents above spouses in their inheritance structure. Being aware of the laws of the country where you purchase a property.
- Estate Duty – Singapore has already removed estate duty, but other countries still have it, which means that $1,000,000 million house you intend to leave to your heirs could end up giving them problems after you die. Take a look at the table below, and it shows the estate duty of some of the well-known countries.
2. Making Multiple Wills
When your assets are located in various jurisdictions, you may be advised to make multiple wills for confidentiality reasons or to expedite the whole probate court process. For example, you make a legal will for your properties in Singapore and another legal will for your properties overseas, United Kingdom perhaps. For this wills, you may appoint different executors to deal with each will accordingly.
This all sounds nice, and all but this should be done with caution because there is such a thing called revocation of wills. When your wills are poorly drafted, or it has different dates you may end up revoking all your wills. So, because of this, we advise that you leave such aspects to your lawyers who can advise you and make a properly drafted will for you.
3. Revocation of Wills
A Codicil to will (correction, addition or revocation) may be done by any time, we have advised you to be cautious about making multiple wills here is why:
Later wills can revoke previous wills; dates are very important in probate court. A will made with a sound mind in let’s say 2017 is considered as the last will compared to a will made in 1990.
Marriage renders any wills made prior to the marriage invalid.
How to Revoke a Will
There are four ways you can revoke your will:
- Make a formal declaration stating that the former will is revoked, even without making another will. You must sign it, and have it witnessed in the same way that you made your will. (Note: Testamentary capacity is taken into account)
- Revocation of wills using a subsequent will, a statement that states you want to revoke former wills must be clearly made, so that an override of wills is obvious. (Note: Destroying a new will doesn’t automatically make your old one will take effect.
- Destroying a will by tearing, cancelling, or burning personally or by someone else with your permission and in your presence revokes a will. (A presumption of destruction may be rebutted)
- Marrying someone makes the wills you made before marriage invalid, this takes effect automatically under the law not unless you made it in contemplation of marriage.
Writing a will can be tricky especially if you don’t have a legal advisor guiding you, you might let your testamentary freedom go wild, but hopefully, with the facts presented above, you will be able to make a will that not only carries out your intention but one that does not confuse probate court.
Need help in writing your will? Give us a call or send us a message we will be glad to help you make your will.