Guardianship and Wills
Updated: May 3, 2022
When I first arrived in Singapore 14 years ago, I decided to practice
what I preach and start planning my finances.
At the time, my philosophy was simple - spend less than I earn and invest the rest. That worked very well until one day my wife came out of the bathroom waiving a positive pregnancy test at me, and the realisation set in that I was soon going to be responsible for another human!
My first priority was setting up a Life Insurance policy, so I knew my wife and daughter would be taken care off financially if something were to happen to me. Unfortunately, having worked in this industry for a number of years, I’d had clients of my own pass away leaving their families with nothing, and I was adamant this wasn’t going to happen to us. It’s very common for people to insure things that are valuable to them, like their homes, cars, and jewelry, however more often than not, their most valuable asset – their ability to earn an income – is left uninsured.
If you had an ATM in your house, that automatically dispensed S$15,000 at the end of every month, would you insure it in case it broke down?
As a starting point, it’s recommended that you have 10-15 times your annual income in coverage, although your own circumstances will dictate whether you need more or less than this. Any outstanding debts you have will affect the amount you need, as will the number of people dependent on your income.
The process of setting up the policy was very quick and easy. For the majority of people, no medical tests or checkups are required.
Life Insurance is very affordable, and the sooner you get covered, the cheaper this
is. A 35-year-old female, non-smoker, can expect to pay less than SGD50 per month
for SGD1,000,000 cover to age 60 – that’s less than a few dollars a day! Spending
such a small amount to secure my family’s future was a no-brainer for me and I
didn’t think twice about this.
Once my daughter was born, the next task on my “To do” list was setting up a Will.
Writing a will helps protect your loved ones from uncertainty after you die. Providing
guidance to your next of kin through a formal Will can reduce the stress and anxiety
of the people you care for.
As an Expat living in Singapore, this was especially important for me. Living overseas away from our family and having bank accounts and other assets in multiple countries, I could see things getting complicated if we didn’t have this in
My four key reasons for writing a Will were:
Appointment of Guardians: having children really focused my mind on how I
wanted to plan for our future. Setting up Life Insurance will help your children
financially, but you also need to decide who is going to take care of them day-to-day
if both parents were to pass away before they become adults.
Control of Your Estate: This is often the main concern for people when writing a
Will – how to make sure your money and possessions are distributed in a way that
you want them to be. Not only does this put you in control of your estate, but it
leaves less room for disputes and arguments over who should get what.
Avoid Intestacy Rules: If you die without making a Will, your estate will be divided
according to pre-prescribed rules, rather than in line with your own wishes.
Reduce the Time for Distribution of your Estate: If you die without a Will, the
process of probate can be lengthy and costly for your family. It may take a long time
for your assets to find their way to your loved ones. Having a Will in place means
that the process can be relatively quick and reduces costs and stress for those
whom you want to protect.
The third and final piece of the puzzle was appointing friends here in Singapore to
act as temporary guardians.
If you are an Expat, it’s likely that the legal guardians whom you are appointing in
your Will are based overseas. If that’s the case, then you will need to appoint
temporary guardians until the permanent guardians arrives and can take on their
responsibility. This is very simple to do and costs nothing, however it has to be
done after you’ve set up your Will.
You need to be careful to appoint a temporary guardian who will be able to fulfil the
role for a meaningful period of time. It is best not to appoint your domestic helper to
perform this role, as her residency status in Singapore will be tied to her employment
Setting all this up was well worth the time and effort it took - I know it’s taken a huge
weight of my wife’s shoulders and she now has the peace of mind that should
something happen to me, financially speaking she has nothing to worry about.
Fast forward 4 years, and we’re now looking at schools and thinking of how we plan
for University Fees……
Rob has been working as a Wealth Manager in Singapore since 2008, helping
Expat’s to manage, protect and grow their wealth - https://www.aam-
advisory.com/rob-howland/ on it.