Complimentary Will Custodian Facility

Friday, Jul 20 2018 02:56 PM

30-plus years ago, a divorced mother died suddenly.

Compounding the 13-year-old daughter’s grief at losing her mum at such a tender age was the matter of a Will, ‘securely’ locked away in an HSBC safe-deposit box, registered to a single renter, now deceased.

Since a Will couldn’t immediately be retrieved, it was considered that the deceased had died intestate. As next-of-kin, our teenage lass, with a divorced father an unwilling party to her plight, applied to the courts for a Letter of Administration to obtain the legal rights to administer the distribution of her mum’s estate.

Once the Letter of Administration was given, the courts appointed a public figure to act as the Executor of the estate so that the safe-deposit box could be opened and the Will retrieved.

With a certified copy of the Will recovered, the Executor applied to the courts for a Grant of Probate, authorising the Executor to manage the deceased’s estate according to the directions of the Will.

The entire process took an agonising 18 months: one year for the Letter of Administration, and six months for the Grant of Probate.

For a year-and-a-half, then, until the Will could be recovered and executed, our young lass had to live off an uncharitable aunt.

(In addition, the Will specified transfer of assets only at age 25, so our 13-year-old had to suffer through 12 years of exorbitant taxes and estate duties, which pretty much exhausted the estate by the time the girl became 25.)

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In 2014, the news of an ex-tour-guide cheating a wealthy but demented widow rocked Singapore. With calls for more safeguards to the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) legal document, the number of seminars by lawyers and Will writers on the importance of having a Will and an LPA jumped. None, however, touched on the equally crucial area of easy retrieval of these documents by beneficiaries.

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As these true stories show, dying without leaving a Will or LPA — or without providing a convenient way to retrieve them — is dooming your beneficiaries to a lot of trouble.

The Ministry of Law’s Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office (IPTO) has instituted a Will Registry, an information centre for all Wills that have been registered with the Public Trustee, who will maintain the information for 120 years from the date of birth of the person making the Will.

The Registry provides details of the person who drew up the Will and where it’s held, but not its contents. This means you still need to store your Will somewhere accessible. This is where premium private vaults, with a legacy of putting client interests first, shine.

Vault@268 provides a complimentary Will Custodian Service for every safe-deposit box rented. The client (renter of safe-deposit box) completes a Will Custodian Form (Form W1) and provides some supporting documents; Vault@268 will take care of the rest. The client must subsequently ensure the Executor gets the original copy of Form W1 and a spare key to the safe-deposit box.

On the death of the client, the Executor needs to provide the Death Certificate of the client, the original copy of Form W1, his identification, and the duplicate key. Vault@268 does an immediate inventory of the safe-deposit box, extracts the Will, replaces all other contents, and re-closes the safe-deposit box until the Grant of Probate is done.

Once the Probate has been granted, the beneficiary can do whatever he wants to with the safe-deposit box.

 

To find out more about Vault@268 and its services, click here.