Records of kinship can help with inheritance issues

The case highlighted in last Wednesday's report ("Sisters give up bid for grandma's CPF money") is something that deserves attention from society, as there may be more such cases in future as our family network matures from an immigrant-based society.

The main issue here is not totally about the cumbersome bureaucracy in claiming inheritance; it is about the lack of attention our society has in valuing and establishing genealogical records.

In order to have any meaningful discourse about family matters or inheritance issues, established genealogical records should be used as a reference to achieve a fair and indisputable resolution.

Birth certificates and marriage certificates are isolated bits of information and do not record a family structure beyond one's parentage and one's marriage.

Compounding this issue is the fact that many pioneers from the turbulent period of the first half of the 20th century may not carry any document of their birth and/or marriage, and there are many children who may have been adopted without proper documentation. Such people should not be excluded from the family network they recognise.

Genealogical records that document and acknowledge kinship, whether biological or not, are a useful resource - not only for identifying the head of the household but also for settling legal disputes. Many countries have state-supported genealogical institutions; in some countries, household and family registries are considered important documents for administrative purposes.

I hope the Government and people of Singapore will be more aware of the importance of an established genealogical record and that it will be made legally mandatory to have one.

Teo Zhen Peng


Genealogy Society Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2015, with the headline 'Records of kinship can help with inheritance issues'. Print Edition | Subscribe