When a person (non-Muslim) dies without leaving a will, he is said to have died intestate. Sometimes, even if a person has a will, the will may not be properly drafted and certain assets are left out of the will. These assets will fall into intestacy.

In Singapore, The Intestate Succession Act (Cap. 146) applies in these situations. According to the law, regardless what the person may have intended, the remaining assets will be distributed as below:

A Person Dies Leaving:Distributed to:
Spouse (no children, no parent)> Spouse (whole)
Spouse, children> Spouse (1/2)

> Children (1/2 to be shared equally)

Spouse , parent(s) (no children)> Spouse (1/2)

> Parent(s) (1/2 to be shared equally between surviving parents)

Parents(s), children> Children (whole to be shared equally)
Parent(s) (no children, no spouse)> Parent(s) (whole to be shared equally between surviving parents)
Brothers and sisters and their children (no spouse, no children, no parent)> Brothers and sisters and children of deceased brother or sister (whole to be shared equally)
Grandparents (no spouse, no children, no parents, no brothers or sisters and descendants of deceased brother or sister)> Grandparent(s) (whole to be shared equally among surviving grandparents)
Uncles and Aunts (no spouse, no children, no parent, no brother or sister, no grandparent)> Uncles and aunts (whole to be shared equally among surviving uncles and aunts)
No spouse, no children, no parent, no brother or sister, no grandparent, no uncle or aunt> Government (whole)

If you do not have a will, the law decides how your assets are distributed, even if the consequences may seem unfair and undesirable. There are many cases where the remaining family and relatives fell apart due to fight over the distribution of the assets. Your hard-earned money may be given to people whom you don’t like or someone whom you don’t even know. It is simply common sense that you make sure that you have a valid and up-to-date will.

There are many other practical difficulties to distribute assets without a will. As a Professional Estate Planner, I am able to help you set up a proper will with professional will writing firms.

If you have any general question, leave your comment below and I will try to reply.

About the Author

Ivan Guan is the author of the popular book "FIRE Your Retirement". He is an independent financial adviser with more than a decade of knowledge and experience in providing financial advisory services to both individuals and businesses. He specializes in investment planning and portfolio management for early retirement. His blog provides practical financial tips, strategies and resources to help people achieve financial freedom. Follow his Telegram Channel to join the FIRE community.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. This does not reflect the official position of any agency, organization, employer or company. Refer to full disclaimers here.

  • Dear Ivan,

    I have a HDB inheritance case that needs your quick advice.

    An elderly lady (around age 89) is staying with his divorced son (age around 60) in a small HDB flat.

    The elderly HDB flat ownership is Joint Tenancy between the elderly lady and her divorced son.

    The elderly lady has 3 other adult children not staying with her.

    The divorced son has a young son (age around 28) and staying with his divorced mother.

    The divorced son is poor, sickly and no Will established currently.

    Who will inherit the HDB flat should the mother passed away and the divorced son also pass away without a Will?

    Understand that without a Will, the inheritance would have to follow the Interstate Succession Act (ISA).

    According to the ISA, wife will get 50% and the children will equally share the balance 50%.

    But since this is a divorce case, and the 28-year old son is actually living under the custody of the divorced mother and receive little financial support from the father.

    Please advise who will inherit the HDB flat according to ISA?


    • Hi, John,

      This case can be more complicated. The divorced wife of the son does not directly inherit under the ISA, but this can still be challenged with some exceptions. And if the 28-year old son is single, he may not be eligible to own a HDB directly. Moreover, the scenario of “should the mother passed away and the divorced son also pass away” together can be tricky as well unless there is a common disaster. I strongly suggest they get a will done to express clearly about their intention.

    • Hi, Ted,

      What do you mean by “refuse my share of distribution”? If you do not want to follow intestate succession act for distribution, you could simply make a will.

  • When my father pass away (mum already passed last year), and the HDB flat is distributed via Intestate Succession Act to me and my brother, do we need to show our birth certificate as proof of relationship? Both me and my brother hold Pink NRIC and are Singapore citizens

    • Hi, Simon

      For intestate succession, you need to obtain a Letter of Administration first. I am not sure about the paperwork but I think proof of relationship should be required.

  • Hi Ivan,

    If a Malaysian (single, no children, parents passed away), dies without a will, does his estate go to his sibling?

    What if the sibling is of a different nationality, e.g. Singaporean? Can the Singaporean sibling inherit his estate?


  • Hi I need to ask my dad passed away n he have a wife in Malaysia they dnt have any marriage cert in Singapore but my dad nominated her name to his cpf.how cn the Malaysian wife get the wealth?

  • Dear Ivan,
    I have a legally drafted and witnessed Australian Will, which distributes my assets to my children.
    Does this Will cover any Shares or Bank Account funds that I may have in Singapore.
    Kind regards,

    • Hi, Rose, it depends on how your will was drafted and if it contradicts any law in Singapore. A will expresses your wishes, but it is not always executable. Generally speaking, it is best to have separate wills for each specific country.

  • Hi Ivan,

    If parents were divorced and child passed away, who be would the beneficiaries in the following scenarios:
    A) joint custody and both parents are remarried
    B) Mother holds the custody and she is remarried

    Thank you in advance!

  • Hi Ivan,
    I have written my will and will need 2 witnesses to sign.
    1. Is it preferable for the 2 witnesses to be non-family related?
    2. Must I meet up with the 2 witnesses together at the same time and sign in each other presence?

      • Hi Ivan,
        Thanks. May I know what are the actual roles of the 2 witnesses when the person died after leaving a will? Is it that they may be called up by the lawyers and asked lots of questions in the event of any contentious issues relating to the will? If that is the case, I don’t know how to convince anyone to be the witnesses.

        • Hi, cupidth,

          yes, the witness may be called up if there is a dispute on the will. But they are not responsible for the contents of the will as they don’t need to know.

  • Hi Ivan if property is under wife”name and wife has passed on. Does the property belongs to surviving spouse. There is no will nor surviving spouse name in the property’s deed. It is Mon HDB property. Thank you.

  • Hi Ivan , I am a sole owner of HDB. If I passed away, does my child 22 years of age automatically inherit my house? Since my child is not 35 years of age, Must the house be sold ? Thank you.

  • Hi Ivan,

    under the Distribution Act, does a stepfather/mother/son/daughter is entitled to receives any share of the deceased estate? And what is the law applied? I’ve been read the interpretation section under the act but I found it is silent the interpretation for step relation.

  • Dear sir

    1.my ex hubby has passed away without a will leaving behind my daughter who 16 years old.. I hv since remarried
    2.is my daughter entitled to to assets
    3.my brother in law as nominated himself to be the administrator. Can I be replace as the administrator.

    • Hi Sara, your daughter should be entitled to the assets. But since your brother in law has commenced the asset administration, the case becomes complicated. You should consult an estate lawyer for further action.

  • Hello Mr. Guan
    My father remarried when I was 7 to a Malaysian. My father is not much in our lives as my stepmother forbade him from having a relationship with my brother and I. My father has two children through this 2nd marriage. Just a curious question–if my father dies and he left both my brother and I out of his will, are we able to contest it? If so, how do we go about doing this? It is more for the sake of my brother who is 100% deaf and has no reliable income. Thank you for your help.

    • Hi, Audrey

      You still can contest, but if your father’s will give a “valid” reason why he left you out or the will gives a small amount to you, you may not win the case. You should consult an estate lawyer for assessment of the situation first.

  • Dear Ivan
    I have an enquiry.
    My wife (foreign citizen) passed away few month ago. She left financial assets in Singapore and a house in our home country
    She drafted a will following our home country format (hand written and without witness in which she named me as sole executor and beneficiary). I’m currently finishing the inheritance process in our home country with a notary as her will perfectly is valid there.
    I’m wondering what does I need to unlock her financial assets in Singapore? Can I just go to the bank with my wife death certificate and a document from the oversea notary stating that I’m the only beneficiary? Or do I need to contact a local lawyer to get a grant of probate/letters of administration (which one apply to my case)?


  • Hi,

    Thank you for your post. Would like to check on the following situation:

    Parents are PR who are currently living overseas. I understand that when they pass away, their CPF monies will go to the children. However, one of the children is a Singaporean citizen while the other is a foreign national. Will the CPF monies be split half and half or would it just go to the Singaporean citizen.

    Thank you!

  • Hi, if my dad did a will long time ago to pass his asset to my mum but my mum is already not around when my dad passed away then will his asset be distributed base on the Intestate Succession Act? Base on the Act will his asset be distributed equally to his children? I read thru the Act but can’t seem to find this rule.

    • Hi, Jac

      It really depends on how the will was written. For example, if the will had a provision of appointing a substitute beneficiary, the wish will still be carried out. Or it may go to your mum’s estate and distribute according to intestate succession act if your mum did not have a will. The lawyer who is handling the probate should be able to advise you.

  • Hi Ivan, my frz is a Singaporean. Wife is fr China. They get married in sg. They both have properties in sg, China & Australia. So if hubby died. All his sg & foreign properties will follow sg law or China law? k u ps recommend a good lawyer to write a will. May I know roughly what is the charges like? Thank you!

    • Hi Claudia, for immovable assets such as properties. The estate distribution follows the law where the properties are located. Yes, I can recommend you a good lawyer for will writing. Please ask your friend to contact me using the online form.

  • Hi Ivan,

    We added our sister name to the flat when my dad passed away as we didn’t want to sell it off and HDB stated it as present. Does it means that she is a co-owner? If my mum is no longer around, will my sister be able to sold off the house? Do we get equal share? Can we prevent her from selling if there is a will left by my mum? Please advise, thanks!

  • how the house money be distributed if we do not have affidavit,GLA and all. As of now bith parents passed away and we are the occupant not the inheritance. So if we sell the house will we get the money so we can equally share among the siblings according to syariah law or we won’t get a cent?

    • Hi Evan,

      My brother, an Indian citizen residing in India , died leaving behind property including a flat in Singapore and money in banks..

      He is divorced, has to adult sons from his ex wife. (all indians)

      He has 2 minor children in Russia who were born out of wedlock (he had not married their mothers) (all Russians)

      He has an 82 year old mother (Singapore citozen) living in India with his physically challenged sister.
      His sister is Indian citizen.

      Could you please help us understand how his property would be distributed if he died without a will?

      Urgently awaiting your reply

    • Hi May, yes you can. But it may not be easy if you are not familiar with the legal implication and you may be end up with a invalid will or it creates more complicated situations.

  • If a will is not written, and children do not know all the assets the father has (overseas and local investments, all bank deposits, shares) and has no access to them. What happens? Let’s say he’s bedridden. Will the children be notified about all his assets after he passes away and still get to share these under intestacy law?

  • Hi Ivan,

    Appreciate if you can advise me.

    My parents and my sister is the owner of a HDB flat.
    I took off my name as an owner because I bought another HDB flat.

    Let say if both my parents are not around and they did not make any will.
    Do I have my share on this HDB flat since I am no longer the owner?


  • Hi there My dad had passed away recently.The Issue is My Grandfathers father names is different by alphabet by the rest of my aunties and uncle and i could not locate my grandsfather death certificate.

  • Hi

    My dad passed away without a will. My mum and eldest bro refused to appoint an administrator and apply to the court for a letter of administration. what happens then to my dad’s estate? Will we get into trouble? Will the state takes over the properties of my dad? Is there a timeline to look at?

    If Mum refuse to act, is there a deadline to the waiting?

    • Hi, Atan

      Why do they refuse to appoint an administrator? After all, they are the beneficiaries as well. There are no real deadlines for estate administration as this can drag for years.

  • Hi, i like to ask. My mum & bro own a house. My mum write a will for the house. Will i get to own the house with my brother as i already own a martial house? Thank you.

  • Hi!
    When a single person dies without a will, leaving no one ie parents, grandparents, brothers nor sisters, can the nephew and nieces claim on the estate ?

    Thank you

  • Hi Ivan,

    Would appreciate your help on the followings;

    1. How will my mother (widow) flat be distributed among her 4 children, which 1 of her child (son) had already passed away; if she does not make a will.

    2. Will her grandchildren from her deceased son get their equal share (if only) on behalf of their deceased father?

    3. If my mother has verbally told her existing 3 children how she wanted her flat to be distributed among her children and grandchildren, which the shares are not equal, is this valid?

    4. If point 3 is not valid because of verbal instructions, then what must she do so that it can be carried out accordingly even without a will? Elderly does not like to make a will.

    5. Can we know what/how must the children do to her flat if one day, unfortunately she pass away.

    Thank you.


    • Hi, Katherine

      I understand your concern. So below are some GENERAL advice.

      1. A will must be written and signed with 2 witnesses.

      2. If she doesn’t will, the surviving children will share the estate, the deceased son’s children will not get it.

      3. If she doesn’t have a will at the time she passes away, the children will need to appoint an administrator and apply to the court for a letter of administration. The administrator then will carry out the estate distribution.

      4. If there is no will, the legal cost will be higher and the process will be longer.

  • hi my sons dad died before he was established as legal father he died with no will. a dna test was done post mortem and he is the father. my son was his only child and we are awaiting a court date for estate distribution his mother is currently the administrator can she give away his personal property as we await the court date or will she have to wait because he will inherit the estate.

  • Hello… my husband died a few days ago. We are not legally annulled or divorced but have been separated for a long time.. hes been living with another woman for a few years… who will get his CPF? and other properties.. he died outside Singapore and I still have to go to the Singapore embassy to verify his death etc since his live in partner has no ties to him legally… I would greatly appreciate a response.

    Thank you.

  • Hi Ivan,

    Would appreciate your help on the following:

    The deceased did not leave behind a will and is survived by 2 children. The asset left behind is a 3 room HDB flat.

    1. How will the flat be distributed if the children each own a HDB flat in their name? Will the flat be sold at market rate?

    2. Can only one child apply for the letter of administration?

    3. What is the deadline for the administration of the estate? (i.e. after the death of the deceased?)


  • Hi Ivan,
    If person made an assignment of insurance policy to another individual (assignee), in this case the rights of the policy will be transfer to the assignee (note: the assignee is not the insured). If the assignee passed away, the insurance policy forms as a part of the estate. Will the insurance policies be distributed based on The Intestate Succession Act (Cap. 146) (without will)? Or the court will assign the policy back to the insured?

    • Hi, Alicia,

      As you rightfully pointed out, the insurance policy forms as a part of the estate of the assignee and it will NOT be assigned back to the insured.

      How it will be distributed will depend on the individual circumstance.

  • Have a question. My mother passed away in 2007 without a Will, she had 2 children and was married to my stepfather. now the deed of distribution states my stepfather 50% and my self 25% and my brother 25%. but my stepfather passed in 2015 do myself and my brother still get our 25% each of the property (house)?

  • Dear Mr Ivan,

    How to find out if a person died with an estate? Cause we have a client wherein the original directors already resigned and the current director now is deceased and we don’t have any contact information to this person. Is there any way wherein we can check his estate?

    Thank you,

  • Hi, so far what u have written shows your calibre and your “kung fu” is very thick, indeed not like any other famous financial bloggers. I shared a lot of your views esp. “in investing – holding long term etc..”, one thing u amazed me is you are able to make it even your kids are young. did your wife work? anyone took care of the kids for you?

    I heard if there is no CPF nominations, a portion of the money will be taken by the Gov and the rest proceeds as per estate law, is this same to HDB, and all savings in banks etc also?

    Can we just do a will, apply for LOA and then forget about PTO(minimise expenses) and settle within ourselves?

    if the person inheriting the HDB is not eligible, does the not-eligible person have the control to sell at market price or the HDB will collect back and treat it as sell to HDB at a price lower than market?

    tyvm, all the merits goes to you and the humanity!
    God bless u!

    • Hi, Kay

      Thank you for your comment. I will attempt to answer some of your questions:

      1. Even if there is no CPF nomination, the money will not go to the government, it will be distributed according to intestacy law mentioned in the above post.

      2. You cannot will your CPF savings, it has to be nominated.

      3. If the person inheriting the HDB is not eligible, he or she can sell it at market price.

  • Hi,
    I am holding Long Term Visit Pass (dependant pass) and my husband are Singaporean (non-muslim). His parent all passed away and he is the only child. We dont have any children yet. May i have a question with you that if he deceases without the will – under the law above i have able to recieve whole assets as house (HDB house) insurance and CPF? I aware that for foreigner can not whole a HDB house, so in my case how the law will be apply?

  • Hi,

    I am a non Muslim and I have a private property under bank loan for another 20+ years.
    If i deceased, does my property go to the bank and not to my spouse, kids and parents?
    PS: I have no will

    if it is to them, they can choose to sell or continue the loan, right?

    thank you

    • Hi, CH

      When you have a property with a bank loan, the bank will take the first charge. If your beneficiaries are able to refinance the house, the bank will typically allow them to pay off the loan and take the house. Otherwise, the bank will sell it and leave the sales proceeds to your beneficiaries.

  • Hi Ivan,

    Thank you for your article, very informative. but have question though, my friend (Filipina) and her husband (US Citizen, resides in US) got married here this March 2017 in ROM Singapore, they had an Antenuptial agreement the day before they got married stating whatever they acquired (estate/ savings etc.) before marriage will not be conjugal in the event of separation.

    My friend passed away this July 2017, and has no nomination in her CPF account. Considering the Antenuptial Agreement that they both signed here in SIngapore, can the CPF savings go automatically to my friend’s Mother? (Father is deceased already) Since the mother also will report the death of her daughter in ICA & CPF.

    Hope you can help me. Thanks.


    • Hi, Ruby

      If your friend has no will and did not make a CPF nomination, her CPF savings will be transferred to the Public Trustee’s Office (PTO) for distribution under the Intestate Succession Act.

      Whether her mother made the report of the death is irrelevant.

  • Hi,

    The deceased is divorced and the 2 children’s custody was given to the mother. The deceased had also made a lump sum alimony payment to the ex-spouse & a lump sum payment to both the children as per the divorce settlement.

    The deceased still have surviving parents.. who are the nominated beneficiary of the deceased cpf amount.

    In such a situation, how will the payout for company insurance of the deceased be distributed? The deceased did not has a will that covers the insurance payout. Will the surviving parents get the payout since they are the nominated beneficiary of his cpf?


    • Hi, Teresa

      If you are asking about the company insurance, you have to check with the company. As the insurance proceeds will be paid to the company and it is up to the company to distribute based on their employee benefit guidelines.

      • Hi,

        According to the company, if there’s no will, the payout may be according to estate law.

        So I want to know under the situation whereby the deceased is no longer supporting the children, how does the estate law comes in place? Will the parent get the payout?


        • Hi, Teresa,

          There are two issues here.

          1. For CPF, if the parents are nominated beneficiaries, they will get the money.

          2. For company insurance, if it were distributed by the intestacy law, it is considered the deceased has only parents and children. Thus the children will inherit the money.

  • Hi Ivan,

    My cousin and his husband both were foreigner and his husband passed away 2 years ago, he had open Time Deposit account in Singapore.

    Just now i went to bank to ask whether my cousin can get saving money from the bank with death certification and marriage certification ; the bank customer service request my cousin to go to court to get administration letter – you aware of the procedure?

  • Hi,
    I came across your post after goggle about estate law from a conversation with friend. Not sure if this thread is active.

    I would like to find out, eg if my mum and dad are legally married in sg but my dad is a msian, and has been estranged for 20+ years without filing a divorce. If anything happens to my mum without a will, would he be eligible for the distribution?

  • Hi my grandparents both passed away grandfather 21 years back and grandma few days back my grandparents have 5 children’s 3 male and 2 females both females get married 40 years back coming to males two were get married and one not married as he was mentally retarded. My grandparents have assets on their name on what basis we will get shares pls help me no will have been done

  • hi i would like to enquire . my dad passed away and has 4 malaysian child from 1st wife that is not registered in singapore and im one and only his singapore child from second wife. do the malaysian child has the right on his cpf and estate? however he already divorce my mom few years back.

  • Hi

    My Dad has a joint property under HDB with his ex-wife . They have decided to hold on to the property until my brother (the child from that marriage) to come of age and then only do the necessary transfer. I was made to understand that whatever contribution made by my Dad will be return back into his CPF acc when that happens. True?

    But what happens if he dies before completing the transaction? Will my Mom (A Malaysian) get any shares out of it? FYI – I have 3 siblings and my brother from that mother is a single child.

    Reading from above comments – would we be facing the same effects; 1/2 goes to my Mom and 1/2 goes to my brother?but as my mom is a foreigner, the fLAt would be sold off in open market?

    What happens to the profit and CPF contribution then? Will any of it goes to us if there is no will?


    • Hi, Alia

      The real distribution will depend on your family’s circumstances. But I can give you some general information.

      1. When the flat is sold, the proceeds (including the profit) will be shared among all the beneficiaries.

      2. If your father used CPF to pay for the house, the proceeds will first be used to return to his CPF with accrued interests.

      3. Generally foreigners are not eligible for HDB so the flat has to be sold.

      Hope this helps

  • Hi! Ivan , This is pertaining of the accident claims case in high court singapore .The claims has no will and already fall to eatate .My husband is malaysian and work in singapore before.Currently, He has already passed away in malaysia .I would like to enquiry about the law regulation distribution in singapore .We are malaysian who will entitle for the for the estate claims?

  • Enjoyed studying this, very good stuff, regards . A man may learn wisdom even from a foe. by Aristophanes. kdecdddabbfekbbb

  • Hi Ivan,

    I would like to seek your advice regarding the savings in SG Bank.

    If the WILL issued by Msia Lawyer, is our family members(Msian) still able to get the money from Bank in SG?
    And it won’t be takes years to distribute for them, right?

    Thank you,

    • Hi, Wee

      It doesn’t matter whether your will is done by Malaysia lawyer or Singapore lawyer, what is important is to have a will in each justification so both wills can file for probate at the same time. If you use a will to handle both Malaysia and Singapore assets, it will take longer.

  • I own HDB flat but have no children. I understand that I am unable to make WILL for HDB. If my spouse and I passed away but intend for our godson to inherit instead siblings..anyway for us to make such WILL..appreciate your reply..many thanks

  • Hi,

    I would very much like to have your advice.

    I am a foreigner, and my wife is a Singapore Citizen. We have been staying in this HDB for some years. At my auntie’s passing, I inherited the HDB from her (Singapore citizen). We would very much like to continue staying there. May I ask if we get to keep the property if I have property overseas. I myself do not permanently reside in Singapore, but my wife does. She does not have property of her own.


  • Hi, my father just passed away and he had owed the banks some money. I would like to ask if my mum and i would be held liable for his debts despite the fact that we are not the guarantors of the debt and did not cosign any of his debts. Also, one of the creditors mentioned they would claim their payment from the deceased’s estate. Does the HDB ( jointly owned by my parents under Joint Tenancy) constitutes part of the estate and will the creditors have a claim on part of the sales proceeds if we decide to sell the hdb in the future?

    Thanking you in anticipation.

    PS: My father died without a will.

    • Hi, Jessie

      Generally only your father’s estate is liable for the debt. Sp creditor is correct that “they would claim their payment from the deceased’s estate”.

      For HDB under joint tenancy, your mum should become the owner of the property as a surviving party, thus I don’t think the creditor can go after the HDB. However, if there is still outstanding loan of the house, your mum has to take over the debt.

  • Dear Ivan,
    Can my Singaporean parents get a share of my asset in Malaysia if I passed away without a will? I am a Malaysian

  • My ex husband has just passed away. He was remarried with a foreigner with no kids. Will our daughter be able to inherit 1/2 of his HDB? Do I need to apply for this separately?

    • Hi, Shirley

      If your ex husband has no will, the hdb should be 1/2 for his existing wife and 1/2 for your children. Since his current wife is a foreigner, it is likely that the hdb has to be sold as foreigner cannot own hdb.

      Hope it helps.

  • My friend and her husband both were killed in a car crash. My friend is younger than her husband. Her husband has a mother. Whereas my friend has a sister.

    They both own a house in joint tenancy.

    Can I know if my friend’s husband mother gets 50% of the house and the other 50% goes to my friend’s sister? Or the full 100% goes to the mother?

    Please advise.


  • Dear Ivan

    My mother has passed without a will and my sister B told me my mother in the past showed her a joint fixed deposit account in our names (mine and my mother’s names). I remembered more than 30 years ago my mother brought me to a bank to buy a FD jointly in our names.

    Since I live overseas now I, I understood that my other sister A is taking care of everything as she lives with my mother over the years.

    Question is : my sister A is refusing to acknowledge the existence of this FD to me although she has taken over my mother’s belongings. I was told she had even approached the bank trying to cash out this FD.

    How do I go about claiming what is mine? Please can you give me advice. I wish I am in Sg now.

    • Hi, Ann

      I think the first thing you need to do is to find out if the FD account still exists. After all, it was opened 30 years ago as you mentioned.

      If you are the joint account owner, the bank should be able to release the information to you and you can proceed from there.

  • hi sir.. my aunty is a Singaporean. she own a hdb unit. I’m her niece and I’m Malaysian.under work permit. she is a single lady. just wanna ask if anything happen to her what will happen to her hse. and her property. do I will be her heir??

  • Hi,
    If a Malaysian Muslim with singapore PR passes away are his/her assets divided according to shariah law? Is there any way to completely avoid the application of shariah law and be fully directed by a will instead? Thanks!

  • Hi Ivan,
    I have a scenario, my wife’s paternal aunt is living with us since we got married. She is now 70 and refuses to make a will. We have two young children. When she passes on, will my wife and two children be taking over her assets? Her aunt’s parents are no longer around. But she has some siblings. Some are married with children and some remain single like herself.
    Please advise which intestate succession act is the above scenario categorised into.

  • Hi Ivan,

    Just in case my husband have some deep rooted grudge on me and he nominate 100% of all his assets to his daughter in his will (or maybe some to his daughter, and some to his ex-wife), will I still be able to claim on his estates if by the time of his death I am still his legal wife?

    If I cant, I will sure die in poverty and have nothing to eat. Please advice how to at least ensure my survival even after his death as I am totally dependent on him.

    Thank you.



      • Dear Ivan,

        Thank you for your reply. I needed some time to digest what is being said in the Singapore Statutes online Chap 138.

        So what it means is that in case my husband wrote a will that his assets are only distributed between his ex-wife and children, I can claim for monthly maintenance out of it correct? Or is it that I will have the right to claim two-third out of his total from his beneficiary stated in his will?

        Also, what to do if before his death he quickly just distribute all his assets to his ex-wife or daughter so that I cannot get anything? Any remedy? Can I insist to audit his ex-wife and daughter’s financial accounts?

        Thank you.



  • May I know, my uncle is the sole owner of a HDB flat but he has a foreign wife who is only on a Long Term Pass. (not PR or SPR). He did not write a will but his mother and siblings are still residing in the flat. Who will the HDB flat be willed to?

  • How would anyone know that i drafted a will if i decide to keep it a secret before i die to eliminate tensions between parents and spouse?

  • Hi Ivan, my dad passed away in 2008, leaving an unit trust under his name, right now the dividen received still under his name, but we can’t do anything with it, unless we engage a lawyer, beside this solution, any other easier and cash-less method? thanks in advance

  • Hi, my mum was a “Transferred Child” to my grandmother. My uncle(deceased) had not married and does not have Issue while my grandparents also pass on. Can my mother aquire Letter of Adminstration?

  • Hi, Quick question about intestate law in singapore. Understand that if the husband pass away, the property will be passed on to his spouse first right? What if his spouse is a foreigner on LTVP and not a PR yet? How is the property asset be distributed in this case?

      • Thanks for the prompt reply Ivan!

        Thats a HDB. From my understanding foreigner cannot own the HDB so the HDB cannot be passed down to her should anything happens right? So i guess her husband will need to draw up a will to have someone administer the sale of the flat if one day her husband pass away, if not the flat goes back to HDB? who should be the administrator in this case? and what would the cost range to draw up such a will?

        • Hi, Howard

          Yes, it is better to draw up a will in this case. Once there a will, it is not called administrator but executor if you have a will. The wife herself can be the executor, if she is not confident to handle it, the person can appoint a professional company to be the executor.

  • Hi Ivan,
    My mum and I share a tenancy-in-common type HDB flat. However, my mum only got 30% ownership because she is granted the ownership by gift. If my mum passed away, is it possible that my siblings are able to fight for this house?

  • Hi Ivan, the parent who has died was domiciled in Singapore, and did not make a valid nomination, how does trustess know or check how many siblings to distribute out the monies

    As the some of the siblings have lost contact

    • Hi, Jolin

      It is the Asset Administrator’s job to locate all the beneficiaries. there is no easy way, that is why it sometimes takes years before estate can be distributed

  • Hi, what if my friend has 2 wives? first with 2 sons. second with 2 daughters. But the 2nd marriage was not consent by the first wife. will the 2nd wife and daughters get anything?

  • My uncle passed away without will and he has a mother, daughter(custody under his ex wife) and a long term gf. can I know who will take over his flat. thanks

  • In the intestate situation of:

    Brothers and sisters and their children (no spouse, no children, no parent) > Brothers and sisters and children of deceased brother or sister (whole to be shared equally)

    What happens when the child(ren} of decease siblings are also deceased? Does their estate get to inherit their share i.e. then their own children will get his/her share depending on his/her will?

    This is a situation which will be faced by my extended family in the near future. Thank you for

    • Dear Jian

      IF you foresee this situation will happen to your extended family in the future, it is better to just draft a will to avoid all the doubts. If you follow intestacy law, it may create a lot of confusion and unexpected result

  • Hi there, can I check how would the money be split if the deceased has parent, spouse and children? With regards to her bank account and property etc.

  • hi, i am singapore pr married to singaporean. my husband left me and our 4 year old son without will. do i and my son get all his assets or his mother? my son is singaporean.

  • Hi Ivan, my family are not a Singaporean citizen. My parents have already passed away without making any will in Singapore, but they made a will in my country. However, they have a savings account in Singapore Bank and now, the bank blocked the account. What should we do? Thank you.

    • Dear Archy

      What are the nationalities of your parents? Generally, if you are from commonwealth countries you can “reseal probate” in Singapore to distribute the savings account in Singapore.

  • Hi,
    If my mum is diagnosed with terminal illness and wishes to transfer her money in CPF to spouse and children, is it possible and how can we go about doing it?

  • Hi,

    Single person, both parent still surviving.
    Parents divorced 20 years old, join custody but under care and control of mother.
    Father did not contribute and have not met for past 20 years.
    Will the assets still distribute to father?

    Thank you.

  • Hi, i would like to ask regarding my friends case .shes a foreighner and have 1 baby but this baby born in philippines , 2yearback the husband pass away now she want ro sell the hdb flat belongs to the husband what arw the procedure to do this cause accordi g to his husband brother she must have an singaporiane administrator cause theres aminor involved is there any chance that she cannot sell the houae and brother and husband mother will take over or stay untill they want?

    • Hi Sheryl

      In this case, if the husband does without a will an administrator is required

      As the wife is a foreigner, she cannot become the owner of the property.

      What she needs to do is to get all the beneficiaries and appoint an administrator to carry out the sale

  • Hi,

    I would like to make an enquiry. 22 years ago, i was legally adopted to another family but i still do maintain good relations with my birth family. In August 2010, my birth mum passed away. My late birth mum did not leave a will behind. Am i entitled to any remaining assest/ inheritence that are left behind by my late mum since i am legally adopted by another family?

  • If my grandma passes away without a will and has a property, joint account with one uncle, balance of funeral deposit with uncle’s wife, how will this be distributed?

  • Hi! Say a cousin brother of the same surname dies , with no spouse,no children,no siblings, no father and no record of his mother whereabout ,nor whether she is still alive or not(The mother was a Malaysian at the time of giving birth to him in 1959, and possibly still a Malaysian even if she’s still alive and since then have not have any part in bringing him up nor provided for him.) possibly divorced from his father in the 1959 itself.

    How would this cousin’s HDB flat that was left behind by his father, his CPF, etc etc be distributed?

    Thank you!

  • Hi

    I have a question that my dad is intending to ask. He is a 63 year old man who is currently working 2 jobs to support himself/his wife and more importantly, financing a HDB resale flat which he has bought 4 years ago after marrying his wife.

    To set the context straight, his wife is not my mother. She is a China foreigner (at time of marriage 4 years ago), converted to Singaporean PR and now, citizen (at the stage where she is awaiting for her Pink IC).

    The question my dad has is, whether his wife has the right to his assets (including his HDB resale flat, savings and CPF) when he divorces her? He has drawn up a will which only includes his daughters (myself and my sister) the access to his assets if he passes on unfortunately.

    More info here, his wife neglects him throughout the 4 years of marriage, up to the point where my dad no longer can take it (amidst the financial burden, mainly to finance the monthly instalment of his HDB flat). His flat is currently rented out, in which he allowed his wife to take the monthly rental income. At point of purchase, his wife contributed only abt 20k in cash and nothing else. The flat is solely under my dad’s name.

    My dad is having serious thoughts about the divorce, but wish to maintain the access to his assets to only his daughters and not his wife. Will that be possible?

    Appreciate your advice/thoughts on this, any will help much.


  • Hi Ivan,

    My wife has an issue with the distribution of the assets with her sisters.
    Background is such – parents died leaving the flat.
    They have 8 sisters where one of them was made the estate administrator.
    After selling the flat, she distribute herself with a larger share and the rest equally. ( Eg $320K, instead of 40k each, they get 30k and she get 110k )
    Can she do that? How can the others seek resolution as they have not agreed to this and claim the balance?

    thanks to advise.


  • what if my wife and i die in a plane clash, we do not have children. Both of us have surviving parents. how much of our assets will be distributed to them when there is no will.

  • Hi, I would like to clarify if a widower dies leaving his parent and children without making a will, his assets will be distributed equally only to the children?

    • Dear Ms Tan,

      According to the intestacy law, it seems to be. but bear in mind nothing is cast in stone when you do not have a will. there are many other factors which can affect the distribution.

  • thank you very much Ivan, your info provided is straight forward and concise, i truly appreciate that..sincerely,sm

  • In that case, the court will likely to decide that the older one passes away first.

    But it is still not so simple. suppose the sequence is husband -> wife -> children ->.

    when husband passes away, wife and children have 1/2 each.

    Then wife passes away, all assets go to children.

    Then children pass away, it is still not clear which side of the family will benefit.

    Above all, if you rely on intestate law, the distribution will be a mess.

  • Hi, thank you for your prompt reply. I was referring to a scenario whereby the whole family of husband, wife and children meets an accident, say, plane crash where no record can be found on the time of death. Which side of the family ( husband’s or wife’s) will benefit from my estate? tks

  • Hi, thank you for the comprehensive explanation. I would like to know what will happen to my assets if myself, my spouse and my children die,say, in an accident, will my assets be disstributed to my side of the family or my wife’s ( who is younger than me)? tks

    • Dear SM

      Every case is different. In general, most people assume the older one passes away first in a common disaster, so your assets will be passed to your wife first and then distribute according to her estate. However, this may not always be true in many cases. You may survive just one hour more than her, and the distribution will be in the other way.

      Therefore, not only a will is necessary, proper considerations of such factors are also as important.

      For example, a “Commorientes” clause can be used to reduce the chance of confusion and undesirable consequences.

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