Planning and Protecting Your Future With the Law
Notes from the session
There are two sets of scribe notes in this document.
First set of notes:
As queer lawyers we recognise there are a lot of holes for queer people in the law -
we’re an organisation in Singapore that looks into the sphere of LGBT rights and how the law affects the queer community. there is an ebook that consolidates quite a few areas of the law - hopefully, it is something you will not read to go to sleep, we update it quite often. you can also see a listing of LGBT-friendly lawyers.
Disclaimer - only to describe the law in general terms and make it accessible to members of the public.
Main topics -
Nasic planning - property, estate planning, medical decisions, cohabitation agreements
Basic planning -
People often think “nobody is suing me & I’m not suing anyone, why do I need to see a lawyer?” The law is integrated with all of us whether we like it or not.
When death does happen, what’s going to happen to your assets? Are they going to be left to people you want them to be left to? Estate planning? If you’re still well and alive, and if one day you lose mental capacity, where you can no longer make decisions of your own, a formal certification made by the psychiatrist.
Property arrangement -
If you’re not buying property by yourself, and you want to be buying property with your partner, there are certain things you want to take into consideration to protect your rights.
HDB vs Private -
• eligibility vs affordability
Eligibility is restricting and does change with time. If you have a partner, who’s going to be paying what amount?? The part that we come in is what if one-day things go south. how then do you want to get out of an arrangement?? At the end of the day, it is a monetary investment. things like renovation, who’s going to be paying for groceries, and the other little things we must consider as well.
Tenancy in common - 70% and 30% or a percentage like this which is decided by parties, not necessarily reflecting how much you’ve put into it. Tenancy in common gives you the flexibility to decide how much you want to pass down to whom upon your death.
Joint tenancy - the biggest difference is in terms of inheritance - the right of survivorship.
Survivorship means that between two people who have purchased the property together, my partner inherits 100% of my share when I die if we hold joint tenancy.
If you want your partner to inherit everything, then write it in your will. Put your intentions on a will so that there is no dispute when you pass away.
What if you have gotten an HDB and you’ve put it in 1 person’s name - I don't have my name on the place, but I am putting money into this. How can you protect your rights in this way?? It is very important to kick start the conversation of “if things go south”, how are we going to be dividing this property?
Fundamentally, the emphasis is just on making the conversation happen. Because at the end of the day money is at stake, and when you invite the court to come into your home it all boils down into evidence. If you’ve been trusting and haven’t kept any receipts or anything but your partner has and can show evidence, then the ball will be in their court at the time of dispute.
When it comes to thinking about who you eventually want to pass down property or assets in your will, it is a big step.
Wills and Intestacy -
Wills are effectively legal instruments you have written in your life to reflect how you want your estate to be distributed. They can still be contested. You can technically draft it yourself but you’d need to take special care and note because in Singapore there are strict requirements of what makes a will a valid will. Importantly, you need 2 witnesses, who cannot be beneficiaries or their spouses, usually, people at a law firm will be your witnesses. You also need to make sure you’re not under duress, you’re of sound mind.
If you do not have a will, your estate falls under “intestacy”. Intestacy distribution is usually by bloodline. If you have a partner and you’re not legally married, we strongly recommend writing a will because otherwise, it may be very hard for your partner to contest the distribution under the intestate law.
If you’re Muslim you should get in touch with a lawyer who is familiar with sharia law because the laws are different for Muslims in Singapore.
CPF and insurance policies are subject to different nominations. If you’ve done a will and willed everything to your partner but forgotten to do your CPF nomination, then your CPF money will go to your family.
If you have assets in many countries around the world, we recommend having wills in each country which are in the jurisdiction of each country.
We have an executor who is the person who is handling all of your affairs. they prove the will is valid and get a court order saying they're the right person to handle your will.
If you have a will in Singapore and you say it covers assets internationally. They might have a whole different set of rules to follow for bringing the will over and checking it, therefore we say make a will in each jurisdiction.
Somebody who wanted to give their pokémon cards to their nephew and a lady who wanted to give her estate to her cat - it's possible if you microchip your cat.
In the wills, you can also take into account guardianship. In Singapore, those of us who are single parents might want to name our partner as the legal guardian of the child. In Singapore, whether or not you have listed a testamentary guardian for your child, this person still has to go to the courts to get a court order to be the legal guardian of your child, it will be a lot easier. it shows your intention, which is what the court will want to uphold at the end of the day. They will still conduct interviews to determine the suitability of the person in taking care of the child.
Q&A - Donating to organisations:
Some organisations who are not registered, no UEN, then how? you can donate to this particular individual in the organisation but must state that they need to be spending it in a particular way. it is complicated and is called setting up a trust - have someone as a check and balance to make sure.
Second set of notes:
Law concerns all regardless of sexuality
Life and death affects all
Death | Estate planning
Loss of mental capacity, no longer able to make decisions of your own
Younger crowd, may not own a property. But something to think about for future planning.
If not buying for yourself, for partner. How to protect legal rights.
Hdb, more restrictive. Affordability.
If things go south, how to go about it. Monetary investment.
Who’s paying what amt. Not just property cost. Renovation, groceries, etc
Tenancy in common: which party holds what %.
Contribution 30:70 but ownership can also be 50:50. Just need to be declared explicitly.
Joint tenancy: right of survivorship.
So whoever survives can inherit the entire property.
Write a will if one chooses this method.
Legal issues arise when contributing to property/ mortgage not in your name.
Kickstart conversation of what happens if things go south.
Some couples may not want to have a legal document or talk about worst case scenarios. But it’s impt to have this conversation.
Court only looks at evidence. Receipts etc. Helps to have e conversation at e beginning. Whom one eventually wants to give to after passing.
Ebook - flowcharts. Wills intestacy.
Wills are legal documents that can be contested.
Strict requirements that make it a valid will. 2 witnesses, cannot be beneficiaries or their spouses.
Normally e lawyer witnesses, person of sound mind.
Pass away w/o will falls under Intestacy. Strongly suggest if one has a partner to draw up a will.
Muslims have their own set of considerations. Consult lawyer who handles shariah law.
Cpf and Insurance are not covered by wills. These are subject to nominations. Look at Cpf and Insurance nominations too when drafting a will.
Make a will in every country one has assets in.
In Singapore, Executor has to apply for court order that they are e rightful person to act on behalf of the deceased to manage their estate.
So having wills in other respective countries also reduces any complications if they have separate rules.
Will affords e freedom for one to decide who u want to give what specifically.
Naming partner as legal guardian of your child.
Testimentary guardian shows courts deceased wishes when any one else might contest guardianship of children.
Lasting power of Attorney :
Dementia, brain damage in accident.
Lack of mental capacity. Can nominate more than 1 person. Revocable.
Person can help take control of your affairs. Use your insurance to help you pay for your medical care.
LPA can be made online via SingPass. Free till 31 Mar*
2 versions, basic $75, more detail requires a lawyer.
Advanced Medical Directive Amd
On Machine, survival reliant on it.
Witness cannot be beneficiary of will.
All SGeans/PR covered under Organ donor act.
Sharing home with a partner. How to protect what u contributed in case one splits up.
No precedent yet. But can also be for straights. Good for courts to have something to look at.
1st choice to go for mediation. Less costly and complicated.
Both parties may want to have separate lawyers to care for their respective interests.
LPA is good but one can never tell what the more forceful party might get away with at e hospital w family present.
Have these conversations early and within open discussions.
With family members, doctors and lawyers involved in the conversation.
Use smartphone to indicate emergency contact information.
Anyway to will assets for pet only. Taking care of it.
Explicit instructions in the will. Excess how, used for?
Else surplus will go into intestacy.
Enforcement, if executor doesn’t hold up the instructions. Can pet sue the person for lack of care?
Wills has to be explicit in instructions to have more people to check up on them.
Organisations: can one will assets to an organisation after death?
Can, wills has to state organisation. Include UeN no.
Executer to contact treasurer after death.
Some organisations have no UEN: what then?
Appoint individual, specify that it’s for organisation w/o UEN no.
Trust fund, more complicated. Have check and balance person.
Conflict between 2, sg assets can be complicated
State what is e governing law in contract.
Tricky to see which law goes into which contract.
Seek legal advice. Other too, so they can decide what is what.
Diff assets in diff jurisdictions.
Long distance partner how to let him come to attend funeral
Will it and have sufficient funds in bank acct to do so.
Does sg law schools teach lgbt laws.
No specific dept per se. But more academic.
Might have been updated to include recent developments