Estate Planning Stories: "Ma, It's My Turn to Take Care of You"

Case Study: We should not do Estate Planning based on assumptions. Apr 24, 2018 1112

Mr Khoo (not his real name) had an oversight in estate planning which came at the expense of the care afforded to his bedridden mother. A 55-year old widower, Mr Khoo was the primary caretaker of his mother. He pleaded with his siblings to allow her to stay in his house given that he had more time and money as compared to his younger sister who was completely spent caring for her autistic son. When his mother was living with him, he took time to care and interact with her and provided her with a live-in caregiver. Never one to spare expense on his mother, Mr Khoo always tried his best to fulfil his mother's wishes, even funding the restoration of his mother's family home in China for sentimental purposes.

As a diabetic, he was wary about his health, being mainly concerned that the quality of care afforded to his mother would drop in his absence. Considering these, Mr Khoo made a Will and CPF nomination that named his sister as his beneficiary and nominee.

A few years down, he married a foreign bride through an agency. His extended family did not like his new wife, given that she was always so unwilling to care for their mother. It came as sudden news that he suffered a major stroke and succumbed to the complications. Upon his death, his sister assumed that she would receive the money that she was Willed and nominated to, and carry on caring for their mother. She was unaware that Mr Khoo's marriage revoked his Will and CPF nomination, such that he passed away intestate. The wife who never gave much regard to Mr Khoo's mother claimed her share in his estate so that she could return to her country. Despite the protests of Mr Khoo's sister, she had no legal entitlement to his estate, and as a result, they had to sell the house and compromise on their mother's care. The importance of being aware of the mechanics of Wills and Estate planning in general in Singapore cannot be emphasised further; where it is better to be safe than sorry.

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