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Do you really need a lawyer to draft your will?

Do you really need a lawyer to draft your will?

In Singapore, engaging a professional will writer or lawyer to help you draft your will could cost at least S$300 to S$500. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

SINGAPORE: Death may be inevitable, but it is something that most people do not like to think about, let alone plan for.

Especially if it is going to cost you several hundred dollars. 

In Singapore, engaging a professional will writer or lawyer to help you draft your will could cost at least S$300 to S$500. In some cases, it can cost more than S$1,000.

While some might say it is a price worth paying to ensure one’s peace of mind, others might beg to differ.

However, a variety of websites promise to draft your will for less than S$100. For simple wills, you can even get the job done for free.

The question is, would such a will be considered legal and valid in Singapore?

According to Mr Roy Lim, a partner at law firm Robert Wang & Woo, the answer is “Yes”.

In this week’s Asia Business First podcast, he explained that a will drafted online is no different from one done by a lawyer.

“Under the Wills Act, a will has to be in writing and executed before two or more witnesses. So long as they generate the will online, print it out and sign it before two witnesses, it’s the same as any drafted by a lawyer.”

While the formalities of writing a will may be simple, Mr Keon Chee, an estate planning adviser for Kensington Trust, questioned whether one’s intentions would be accurately conveyed by an online service.  

He holds lengthy meetings with his clients to understand just how much they can afford to part with immediately upon their death, and how to apportion the rest over time.

“It is only after one or two hours of discussion that I know the true nature of their needs. And if we just focus on the formalities of the will [and] getting it legally valid, you may in the end have a defective will because it does not meet your intentions.”

Mr Alvin T’ng, a former lawyer, is the founder of WillCraft – a website that promises to draft a basic will for S$99.

Mr T’ng says his service is for the average person rather than millionaires with complicated financial arrangements.

“We are here to cover the good 50, 60, 70 per cent of Singaporeans who own an HDB, or maybe an HDB and a condo and have three kids. 

"As for understanding their intentions, I believe the adviser can never understand the intentions more than the person himself. What the person needs to know is: In what context can he write his intentions and wishes? WillCraft provides that context. WillCraft warns you [that] you might not be able to have witnesses as your beneficiaries because if you do so, they will get nothing from the will. 

"There are little nuances that are involved that the average person might not know, and the information might not be readily accessible," he said.

"Of course, WillCraft is not a law firm, which is why we have partnered with Robert Wang & Woo and Legal Ink."

For an additional S$49, lawyers from those legal firms will review WillCraft's wills and ensure that everything is accurate.

Mr Roy Lim of Robert Wang & Woo explained that his firm did not undertake this endeavour with profit in mind. 

"What Alvin is doing is trying to push this essential legal service to the masses at a very affordable price. And we would like to support him in this journey."

When happens if you want to make a new will, and should you make multiple wills in different jurisdictions if you have properties overseas? To find out, listen to the Asia Business First podcast here.

Source: CNA/wl


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