Why CPF monies, share of HDB flats not automatically covered by a will

We thank Mr Francis Cheng for his feedback ("Let CPF monies, share of HDB flats be covered by a will"; Dec 12).

Mr Cheng suggested reviewing the Central Provident Fund Act so that CPF monies can be covered by a will, and standardising the manner of holding of HDB flats so that owners can specify in their will how their interest in the flat can be distributed.

First, CPF monies are not meant to be part of a CPF member's estate. This has the advantage of not subjecting the member's CPF savings to his debts upon his death.

This is to protect the member's CPF monies and ensure that the member's dependants receive the monies. Moreover, if CPF monies are distributed according to a will, any disputes arising from the existence and validity of the will may delay the receipt of the CPF monies by the dependants.

It is, therefore, in the interests of both members and their dependants for un-nominated CPF monies to be distributed by a public agency outside of the member's estate, in accordance with intestacy laws.

If the CPF member wants his CPF monies to be distributed in accordance with a will, the member can make a nomination of the same beneficiaries as those under the will. Upon the member's death, the CPF Board will pay the CPF monies to the nominees directly.

Most CPF members who have died had earlier made a nomination, and we continue to encourage members to make a nomination in their lifetime.

Second, on standardising the manner of holding of HDB flats, Mr Cheng has rightly pointed out that the law allows co-owners of HDB flats to hold their property as either joint tenants or as tenants-in-common. This provides flat owners the flexibility to choose the manner of holding of their flat, based on their individual needs and circumstances.

If they would like their interest in the flat to be automatically transferred to their joint tenants, they can opt for joint tenancy.

On the other hand, if they prefer to make a will to specify how their interest in the flat will be distributed, they can opt for tenancy-in-common.

Standardising the ownership would result in flat owners no longer having a choice in the manner of holding of their flat.

Shaun Goh

Director

Income Security Policy Division

Ministry of Manpower

Lim Lea Lea (Ms)

Director (Branch Operations)

Housing and Development Board

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2015, with the headline 'Why CPF monies, share of HDB flats not automatically covered by a will'. Print Edition | Subscribe