Sometimes, family members/ next-of-kin travel together and meet with an accident. What happen when closed family members are victims of simultaneous deaths in Singapore? This means that they pass away at the same time or where it is impossible to tell who pass away first.
How are their assets distributed?
If there is evidence on the first death, the assets of the first deceased will be distributed first, followed by those of the second deceased. When it is impossible to tell who pass away first, the younger deceased will be deemed to have passed away later.
1. Both Deceased Are Spouses and Both Do Not Have a Will
Assuming that the wife is younger than the husband, the husband would be deemed to have passed away earlier. In the event that the husband did not make a Will, the wife will inherit at least half of the husband’s assets under Section 7 of the Intestate Succession Act. The wife’s estate would become larger and if she were to have a Will, her larger estate would be distributed as per her wishes under the Will. Otherwise, her assets will similarly be distributed according to the Intestate Succession Act.
2. Husband Has a Will with a Survivorship Clause
Some testators (i.e. people making the Will) will have a Will with a survivorship clause. A typical survivorship clause will indicate that should beneficiary A not survive the testator for a period of time, beneficiary B will inherit the share of beneficiary A.
Assume the following scenario:
1. Husband’s Will has wife listed as a beneficiary.
2. Husband’s Will has a survivorship clause indicating that beneficiary B will take over wife’s share if wife does not survive the husband by at least 30 days.
3. Both husband and wife were found dead at an accident scene.
4. Wife was older than husband.
5. Wife did not make a Will.
In this case, the wife’s estate will be divided as per the rules under the Intestate Succession Act. The husband will receive at least 50% of the wife’s estate. Since the wife did not survive the husband for a period of 30 days, her share of her husband’s assets will be given to the beneficiary B.
3. Wife Has a Will with a Survivorship Clause
In this case, the husband’s share in the wife’s Will will go to beneficiary B, if the husband passes on earlier than the wife.
4. Both Husband and Wife Have Wills with Survivorship Clauses
In this case, their respective assets will go to beneficiary B, since both spouses do not survive each other for more than 30 days. Assuming that beneficiary B is their child, their child will stand to inherit most of the assets that the couple has.
From the above scenarios, you could see that survivorship clauses may be crucial in dealing with simultaneous deaths in Singapore. With a Will and a survivorship clause done up, you can ensure that your assets go to the people whom you have in mind, if your first choice beneficiary is no longer around.
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