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Wills Registry to charge S$50 for submissions

SINGAPORE — It will now cost S$50 to lodge one’s will information with the Wills Registry and it will have to be done online.

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SINGAPORE — It will now cost S$50 to lodge one’s will information with the Wills Registry and it will have to be done online.

Previously, such an exercise, which was free of charge, involved submitting a hard-copy form to the registry that included details of the person who drew up the will and where it was held.

Last month, the Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office (IPTO), which maintains the depository, published a practice circular addressed to all law firms and wills-drafting companies, informing them of the changes that took effect on March 1.

In response to media queries, an IPTO spokesperson noted that the number of deposits had been increasing over the years.

“As a result, the Wills Registry has had to incur significant costs in processing and maintaining these deposits. As the Registry is unable to continue providing this service for free, we decided on a one-time fee of S$50 to be payable on each deposit of will information,” she said.

Moving to an online service will also develop a more robust system, where users can get instant confirmation that the registry’s database has been updated with their will information, the spokesperson added.

Last year, there were a total of 14,647 deposits compared with 10,904 in 2012.

The registry was set up in 2001 by the Ministry of Law to act as a central information centre for all wills that have been drawn up and registered with the Public Trustee, who will keep the information for 120 years from the date of birth of the person who made the will.

Such a facility would also help ensure a more efficient way of administering estate matters for family members when a person passes away, the ministry had said when the registry was set up.

The contents of the will are not kept in the registry, which also does not automatically update its records if a will has been cancelled. The cost of searching for a will remains at S$10.

In Singapore, anyone aged 21 and above can write a will, which is validated with the signatures of two witnesses who are not its beneficiaries. One does not need to go to a lawyer or deposit his will information to make the document effective. It is also not compulsory for one to register the existence of his will.

Engaging a lawyer to draw up a will could cost between S$250 and S$1,000, depending on how complex the contents of the will are.

Lawyers TODAY spoke to were concerned that the S$50 fee would deter people from lodging their wills with the registry.

“I always advise my clients to deposit their will information with the registry even though it’s not compulsory. But I may not do so now with this fee because it’s an unnecessary cost,” said lawyer Michael Low from Crossbows LLP.

Asia Law Corporation senior lawyer Harry Sim also pointed out that many of those who draw up wills are usually older and may not be technology-savvy enough to submit the documents electronically. “It will take the seniors some time to learn how to use the system,” he said.

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