The art of creating a long-lasting legacy is in the details.
Titled Leaving a Legacy, the latest National University of Singapore (NUS) Giving Forum sought to shed light on the process of ensuring one’s legacy and dispelling misconceptions. Moderated by Associate Professor Lan Luh Luh, NUS Business school and Faculty of law, the forum touched on the topic of making a will or setting up a trust, which is often shied away from, as it reminds us of our own mortality. Despite the sensitivity of such a subject, ensuring that assets are gifted to the right persons in the most beneficial manner is part of maintaining one’s legacy.
The many considerations and processes in making a will was introduced by panellist Ms Sim Bock Eng, Partner and Head, Specialist & Private Client Disputes Practice at WongPartnership LLP. An accomplished and highly-recognised lawyer, Ms Sim spoke about the potential troubles one might face should there be no will written.
“Without a will, applicants must undergo a lengthy process of verification and approval by the Court, which can take up to nine months or more. This is made more complicated should there be minors involved, as the Court may ask for security in the form of a guarantee of the same value of the estate from the applicant and the provision of two guarantors. This may be a large sum depending on the value of the estate,” shared Ms Sim.
Other alternatives which could complement a will, such as a trust, were also explored. Mr Henny Liow, Chief Trust Officer at DBS Private Bank, gave a brief overview of trusts and the advantages it can provide.
“A trust allows you to transfer your assets to your beneficiaries in an orderly manner, especially if they are minors or not financially savvy. The trustee will hold the assets for the beneficiaries and deal with it according to the terms in the trust, such as having a percentage of your wealth distributed over a period of time or at key life stages to ensure responsible usage by recipients. Charities can also be named as beneficiaries should one wish to pledge to a greater cause,” explained Mr Liow.
Besides estates, guest speaker Dr Janet Fung from Goh Clinic + Surgery, highlighted the option and need for individuals to prepare an Advance Medical Directive (AMD), which allows individuals to express their wishes in advance. In the event of terminal illness or unconsciousness, they can choose to avoid further suffering beforehand, and be allowed to pass naturally, in peace and with dignity.
“While there may be no cure for terminal illnesses, sometimes medication and treatment may prolong life. With today’s technology and medical advancements, this can be for an extended period of time. However, not all of these life-prolonging treatments are comfortable.
“Through an AMD, you are able to make it clear to your family while you can clearly think on what you would like to be done should you ever be in this situation. While this would help, communication between you and your loved ones is ultimately the key to ensuring that your family respects your decisions during this time,” said Dr Fung.
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