A will is a legal document that sets out your wishes regarding the distribution of your property and assets. The will must be in writing and signed in front of 2 witnesses.
You, as the testator, will appoint executor/s to distribute your assets according to your will, to your beneficiaries, who are people that benefits from your will.
Any solely owned assets can be included in a will. If the asset is jointly owned, it cannot be included in a will as there is a rule of survivorship which states that the surviving joint owner would have the full ownership when one joint owner passes on.
For instance, there is a joint bank account between husband and wife, when either one of them pass on, the remaining one would get the 100% of the account.
In addition, CPF monies cannot be included in a will, and can only be nominated through CPF.
When one pass on intestate, which means without a will, then a willing party has to apply to court for a Letter of Administration to be appointed as the administrator and manage the estate of the deceased. The assets would then be distributed according to the Intestate Succession Act.
Lasting Power of Attorney
Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows you (the Donor) to appoint someone else (the Donee) to make decisions and act on your behalf if you lose the mental ability to make these decisions yourself in the future.
Yourself as the Donor, has to be at least 21 years old and has mental capacity, which simply means ability to make decisions. One who may lose mental capacity due to medical conditions that affects the brain, such as stroke, dementia, mental health issues etc. Hence, as a precautionary measure, you should make a LPA while you have the mental capacity.
Your Donee/s also has to be at least 21 years old and has mental capacity. Most importantly, being a Donee has great responsibilities, so your Donee has to agree to the appointment with full understanding of his responsibilities.
Types of Power
You can give your donee powers to make decisions on your Personal Welfare and/or Property & Affairs, and also set restrictions to these powers.
Decisions on Personal Welfare refers to general day-to-day care decisions, living agreements, social activities, contact with other people etc.
Decisions on Property & Affairs refers to the management of the assets such as buying, selling, renting and mortgaging your property; opening, closing and operating your bank accounts; handling tax matters; investing your monies etc.
The list is not exhaustive, and one should refer to the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice for more details.
For more assurance, you can always appoint more than one donee to make the decisions, either jointly or jointly and severally. The difference being, jointly means all the donees must have an agreement on the decision, while jointly and severally means the donees can make the decisions together or separately.