PROPOSAL TO AMEND WILLS ACT 1838 TO PROVIDE FOR REVOCATION OF APPOINTMENT OF FORMER SPOUSE AS EXECUTOR OR BENEFICIARY IN A WILL

Under our Wills Act, it is provided that the act of marriage automatically revokes the will made by a testator before marriage. However, when the testator divorces his spouse, the appointment of his former spouse as an executor or beneficiary under a will he made during the marriage is not revoked. This is anomalous. Even for a Lasting Power of Attorney, it is automatically revoked when the donor divorces the done. I therefore suggested to the Minister for Law that he consider revising the Wills Act to provide for automatic revocation of the part of the will appointing a former spouse as an executor or beneficiary. In his reply, he stated that his Ministry will consider the feasibility of my proposal in future review of the Wills Act.

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Mr Murali Pillai asked the Minister for Law whether the Ministry will consider the feasibility of amending the Wills Act 1838 to provide for, in the event of a divorce or annulment of marriage, the revocation of an appointment of the former spouse as an executor or beneficiary under a will that was executed by a testator during the subsistence of the marriage.

Mr K Shanmugam: Today, under Singapore law, a divorce or an annulment of marriage does not, in itself, affect the appointment of the former spouse as an executor or beneficiary under a will that was executed by the testator during the subsistence of the marriage. Therefore, a testator who is undergoing, or who has undergone, divorce or annulment proceedings should carefully consider if there is a need to modify the arrangements under his or her existing will.

Some jurisdictions such as the UK, New Zealand and Hong Kong have moved in the way suggested by the Member to amend their legislation to provide for automatic revocation of a will (or part thereof) in the event of divorce or marriage annulment. We thank the Member for his suggestion, and will study the feasibility of providing for such automatic revocation in future reviews of the Wills Act.

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Murali Pillai

Member of Parliament, Bukit Batok SMC, Advisor to Bukit Batok SMC GROs.