While you and your family members are alive, it is necessary to put certain things into place to ease the burden left on your family once someone passes. Talking about death is morbid and never easy, but it is important. You need to determine the wants and wishes of your loved one and to settle legal matters concerning inheritance and assets while they are still able to contribute to the conversation.

Obtaining Legal Counsel

While it may seem wise to save money on hiring a legal professional to assist you in determining the value of and then the collection of allotted inheritance monies, remember that acquisition of inheritance is a legal matter and any mishap on your part can be cause for legal action by either other members of your family or by the state.

Acquiring a lawyer specialised in inheritance and areas surrounding the death of a family member will be an asset to you throughout this process. In addition, a lawyer keeps track of court dates and records and many other legal processes that can often be too painful to handle while coping with the death of a loved one. It is also best to bring in a professional when needed to help to make the transition easier.

Taxes

All taxes owed on your loved ones assets must be calculated by the government and paid in full. Estate duty is a tax payable on the assets of the deceased to the government. There is no Estate Duty payable for deaths on and after 15 Feb 2008; however, if you have a family member that passed away before this time it is necessary to ensure that you are not withholding taxes from the government, even unknowingly.

Estate duty owed once the deceased has died in Singapore is payable on all assets (immovable and movable) in Singapore and all movable assets outside of Singapore. Houses, land and other properties are not taxed once they are owned outside of the country.

In addition to assets, any gifts given by your loved one within a year of their death are also subject to the estate duty. If your relative died outside of Singapore only immovable property in Singapore will be subject to duty, however, the threshold for this exemption is S$9 million. More information about taxes payable can be found at IRAS Website.

Inheritance Payouts

Relying on family members and friends to determine asset division often causes conflict among the family of the asset holder. It is very easy for emotions and feelings of greed to overtake the proceedings and cause a rift between the entitled family members. To prevent such a situation from happening, many will create a will before they die which will clearly state who they wish to receive certain parts of their estate.

Read the 3 Easy Steps to Writing a Will.

In some cases, a will left by a deceased family member has not been satisfactory to the remaining members of the family. In this case, the family members will hire a lawyer to contest the will in court in an effort to prove that their way of division is better than the stated division laid out in the deceased’s will. If your family member has left a will that has not been contested, a meeting with the lawyer is necessary to announce the contents of the will and officially award the assets. In the absence of a will, Section 7 of the Intestate Succession Act outlines estate division in each familial circumstance and provides a breakdown of who receives what. A table of this information can be found here.

While your loved one may have included you in their will, many individuals only guarantee the allotted inheritance once certain stipulations such as age, marital status and level of education have been met. To prevent surprises, discuss with your loved ones early on their wishes for the inheritance, such as investing, buying a home, or starting a business.

This will give them peace of mind regarding their assets and give you an insight into what role you play in receiving your inheritance. It is important to remember that your inheritance is a piece of your loved one that they may have meant something to them or that they had worked hard for. Inheritance is best kept to either pass on to growing children or to tangibly better the livelihood of the person receiving the inheritance in a long-lasting sustainable way.

The subject of inheritance can be touchy in many families – just remember that the goal of inheritance is to have the wishes of the deceased fulfilled through the lives of their remaining family members. Keep this in mind and remember to remain respectful, and assuredly, all will go well.

Still want to know more? Here’s how to plan ahead for your inheritance matters.

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C.E.O @ The New Savvy
Anna Haotanto is passionate about finance, education, women empowerment and children’s issues. Anna has been featured in CNBC, Forbes, The Straits Times, Business Insider, INC and The Peak Singapore. She was nominated and selected for FORTUNE Most Powerful Women conference in 2016 (Asia) and 2015 (San Francisco, Next Gen). Anna has 10 years of experience in the financial sector and is currently a Director in Tera Capital. Her previous work experience includes positions at Citigroup, United Overseas Bank, a regional role in Business Monitor and a boutique private equity firm based in Shanghai. She graduated from Singapore Management University (Finance and Quantitative Finance).