It’s a misconception in Singapore that it’s necessary to hire a lawyer to draft a will. Nothing could be further from the truth. Anybody can draft a will for you. In fact, if necessary, you can even write your own will, and it can be a perfectly valid will after you pass on.
While drafting wills does tend to lie within the domain of most estate-planning lawyers, many wills-drafting companies have also sprung up to service these needs. These companies usually don’t have any lawyers or even anyone legally trained but they survive by keeping themselves up to date on the existing law and marketing themselves heavily.
However, just because you can write your own will without having to spend a single cent doesn’t necessarily mean you should DIY. While it’s not impossible for the determined layman to pick up, there are a number of statutes and laws to get your head around if you want to make sure your will is drafted correctly.
You might want to take a look at this will-drafting guide if you’d like to draft your own will.
At the very least, you should be conversant with the Wills Act (Chapter 352) before embarking on writing your own will.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Drafting your own Will
- There’ll be zero costs as you’ll be drafting the will yourself. All you need is a pen (or more likely, a word processor).
- There’s the added benefit of learning and picking up a new skillset.
- Anytime you need to update your will, you won’t have to make an appointment with a lawyer or will-drafting company. You can just do it yourself.
- Exclusions will not be caught. It’s relatively easy to miss out on certain beneficiaries in a will. Someone who drafts your will, be it a lawyer or someone from a will-drafting company, will usually review your list of beneficiaries and ask you in-depth questions to make sure your will is an accurate representation of how you want your assets to be distributed in the event you pass on.
- There’s a higher propensity for error. It’s more difficult for someone without legal training and experience in wills and probate law to be able to perfectly draft a will. There are numerous grey areas in the law that a layman might completely miss out on or misinterpret.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Paying someone to Draft your Will
- It’s relatively affordable to hire someone to draft a will for you nowadays. Simple wills tend to start from around $180. Complex wills can be more expensive but if you have a lot of assets in different countries, you probably won’t want to be drafting your own will as well.
- Hiring someone to draft your will ensures peace of mind, particularly if you’ve hired a lawyer to write your will. There’ll be less chance that a beneficiary will contest probate in the event of your passing and you’ll feel more assured that there won’t be errors in the will.
- Most estate-planning lawyers in Singapore can advise you on the whole estate-planning process, as opposed to merely the drafting of the will. Your lawyer can also assist you with getting a Lasting Power of Attorney and help your executors with extracting the Grant of Probate upon your passing.
- You’ll have to incur costs to get peace of mind. While the price of having a will drafted is relatively cheap, you do still have to pay for it.
There’s no real right or wrong answer here. If you’re willing to spend the time and effort to learn the relevant laws and statutes surrounding wills, it can be a fruitful exercise to write your own will.
However, if you’re not willing (or unable) to spend the time to pick up will-drafting, it’s probably in your best interest to go to a professional will drafter, preferably a lawyer. The last thing anyone needs is a will riddled with errors. A DIY will that’s poorly drafted can save you money in the short term but create a mess for your heirs when you’re gone.
Shen is a writer for Singapore Probate, a website where Singaporeans can learn more about estate-planning matters in Singapore.