CPF Board to remind members who have undergone divorce to review their nominations
CPF nominations, like wills, are not revoked in the event of a divorce as a person may still intend to provide for the ex-spouse and children.
SINGAPORE: From May this year, the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board intends to remind members who have undergone divorce to review their nominations, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said in Parliament on Monday (Mar 20).
He was responding to questions filed by MPs Lim Biow Chuan (PAP-Mountbatten) and Sylvia Lim (WP-Aljunied), who asked whether the rules will be changed to automatically revoke a nomination when the beneficiary becomes an ex-spouse following divorce.
Under the CPF nomination scheme, members have the option of choosing who should receive their CPF funds after they die, and how much each beneficiary should receive.
The issue was put in the spotlight recently after the case of an elderly man who assumed that his only daughter - and not his estranged ex-wife - would inherit his CPF savings.
A High Court judge said earlier this month that it was "puzzling" that divorce did not automatically revoke a pre-existing nomination, even though a pre-existing nomination would automatically be revoked upon marriage.
“CPF nominations are currently treated in the same way as wills. They are revoked upon marriage to give the member an opportunity to make a new nomination,” explained Dr Tan.
“Like wills, CPF nominations are not revoked in the event of a divorce as we recognise that the CPF member may still intend to provide for the ex-spouse and children from the marriage.”
Dr Tan noted that the Ministry of Law is studying whether to reform the rule in the Wills Act 1838 that provides for the automatic revocation of wills in the event of marriage.
“MOM (Ministry of Manpower) and the CPF Board will likewise study the CPF nomination rules, so that the policy remains relevant to the evolving needs and behaviours of our citizens,” he added.
REVIEW, UPDATE NOMINATIONS
In the meantime, CPF members should review and update nominations “when their life circumstances have changed”, Dr Tan said.
“The CPF Board has enhanced the CPF nomination service to enable members to conveniently review their nominations and make changes securely, including via the CPF website,” he added.
The agency currently includes reminders to all members to review their nominations in their annual statement of their account.
RELOOK KEEPING CPF NOMINATIONS UPON DIVORCE
In response to Dr Tan's point that CPF Board intends to remind members who have undergone divorce to review their nominations, Ms Lim sought to clarify whether the agency would "keep track of divorce orders" and "make sure that letters are sent to members who undergo divorce proceedings".
Urging the agency to relook the "phenomenon" where CPF nominations are not revoked upon divorce, she asked that it consider the argument that in a divorce proceeding, CPF funds are liable for distribution as matrimonial assets.
An ex-spouse would hence already have had their share of the CPF funds at the point of divorce, she explained.
"So it is actually not logical that most members would want the ex-spouse to have another legacy at the point of death when that spouse has already had a division of the CPF funds at the point of divorce," she said.
According to the CPF website, CPF monies may be considered matrimonial assets and a share may be given to an ex-spouse. However, there is nothing in the laws that give the ex-spouse an automatic entitlement.
Any potential distribution is up to the court to decide, taking into account matters set out in the Women's Charter and the Administration of Muslim Law Act, said the board.
Dr Tan noted that some of Ms Lim's points are currently being reviewed, and that relevant agencies are working together for information on the divorced members. He suggested that she file a Parliamentary Question for an update on the review after May, when the CPF Board is set to remind members who have undergone divorce to review their nominations.