Complete Property Market Updates of Singapore

June 4, 2008

My brother doesn’t want China bride to inherit flat

Filed under: General,Property Q & A — Propertymarketupdates @ 5:01 am

Q My uncle and brother bought an HDB flat together as joint tenants. They paid the mortgage in full. My uncle died a few years ago, so my brother automatically became the sole owner of the flat. He married a Chinese national last year.

What can my brother do to prevent his wife from getting the flat should he suffer any mishap? He feels that she does not deserve to get the flat as she has not contributed a single cent to the household.

A It would be advisable for your brother to make a will in which he wills away his assets, including the flat, to specified beneficiaries other than his wife. It would also be advisable not to register her officially as a permitted occupier of the flat, as this could give rise to complications over her continued right of occupancy and, ultimately, the disposal of the flat after his death.

That said, as his wife, she is his dependant and would have played some sort of spousal role. Thus, it might not be fair or conscionable for him not to leave anything at all to her after his demise.

It might, therefore, be prudent to bequeath to her some part of his assets, whether in cash or other forms. If he wants to bequeath Central Provident Fund monies, he must make a specific nomination. Otherwise, these will be divided according to intestacy laws, under which his wife would have a share of his CPF.

If your brother fails to provide for her (or for any lawful children from their marriage), she is entitled as his dependant, under Chapter 138 of the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act, to apply to the courts for reasonable maintenance to be paid out of his net estate.

The court will assess her claims and other relevant factors – such as her income-earning ability, present or future sources of capital or income, and conduct towards your brother. If the court deems it appropriate, it will make provision for her reasonable maintenance from your brother’s net estate.

If your brother does not wish to bequeath to her any part of his estate and his reasons are sound – for example, he has more than adequately provided for her in his lifetime (by, say, putting some cash, assets or savings under her name), or if her conduct towards him or the marriage justifies his actions in leaving her out of the will – he should make this clear in his will.

The court will then assess the case in the light of the reasons provided in his will.

Lim Choi Ming
Partner, KhattarWong

Advice provided in this column is not meant as a substitute for comprehensive professional advice

Source : Sunday Times – 11 May 2008

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