SINGAPORE: Over the last five years, about 98 per cent of unused Central Provident Fund (CPF) money belonging to people who died was distributed by the CPF Board or the Public Trustee’s Office.
Only 2 per cent of CPF savings was left unclaimed, Manpower Minister Josephine Teo said in Parliament on Monday (Nov 4).
At the end of last year, CPF money made up S$132 million of the S$211 million in unclaimed funds held by the Public Trustee's Office.
Mrs Teo told the House that the vast majority of CPF members who died had nominated beneficiaries and their funds were distributed according to these nominations.
This is typically done within a month of the CPF Board being notified of the member’s death.
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The minister was responding to parliamentary questions that asked for details of the members whose CPF money was left unclaimed, what can be done to reduce this amount and whether authorities would consider changing the process of nominating a beneficiary.
Even without a nomination, the unused CPF savings of those who died may still be distributed to their next of kin in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act or the Inheritance Certificate (for Muslims).
Mrs Teo explained that the CPF Board will transfer the unused CPF money of those who died to the Public Trustee’s Office typically within three weeks of being notified of the member’s death. It will then trace and search for the next of kin.
Elaborating more on this search process, Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong said: “The Public Trustee's Office will contact individuals who are known to possibly have an interest in the deceased member’s un-nominated CPF monies and also invite them to make an application to claim these un-nominated funds.”
These individuals include people who informed the CPF Board of the death or the death informant listed in the records of the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), as well as the family members of the deceased reflected in ICA’s records.
To ensure that the CPF savings are distributed to the rightful applicants, Mr Tong said the Public Trustee's Office requires applicants to produce documentary proof to support their claims and eligibility.
Where necessary, it will assist the applicant to obtain necessary documents from the relevant agencies by making a request on behalf of an applicant or supporting the request for information.
Mr Tong said the Public Trustee's Office managed to distribute about 88 per cent of the unclaimed CPF money it received from the CPF Board over the last five years.
It will continue to make efforts to locate legally entitled beneficiaries of unclaimed funds, including making house visits. Individuals who may be legally entitled are also encouraged to submit their applications as there is no time limit, Mr Tong added.
POSSIBLE ELECTRONIC NOMINATION SYSTEM
As part of ongoing efforts to make it easier for members to nominate beneficiaries, Mrs Teo said the CPF Board is exploring launching a new electronic nomination system in the first quarter of next year.
Currently, CPF members can make nominations in-person at any of the CPF service centres or via post.
Last year, the CPF Board processed about 120,000 nomination applications – more than double the 50,000 nominations made in 2013, the minister said.
The CPF Board holds annual roadshows to educate its members on the importance of making a CPF nomination, Mrs Teo said. It also works with lawyers and insurance agents to advise their clients on making a CPF nomination.
There are also regular reminders such as a yearly statement of accounts sent to all CPF members, which indicate whether the member has made a nomination.
Mrs Teo also responded to Member of Parliament Chong Kee Hiong’s question on whether authorities will consider allowing higher withdrawal amounts for those who do not have next of kin to nominate.
“For members on the Retirement Sum Scheme, the payouts are computed taking into consideration life expectancy, which is unrelated to whether a person has next of kin,” she said.
“Therefore, they may wish to choose the CPF Life Standard Plan which generally offers higher payouts for life. After all, they have no next of kin to fall back on if they outlive their savings.”
The minister added: “At the same time, we focus on helping every member get their nominations done well in advance.”