CPF nominations are treated the same as wills and hence not revoked upon divorce: Tan See Leng

CPF members should review and update their nominations when their life circumstances change, said Manpower Minister Tan See Leng. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE – Nominations made by Central Provident Fund (CPF) account holders on who should receive their CPF savings upon their death, and the proportion a recipient gets, are currently treated the same as wills.

This is why the nominations are revoked upon marriage but not divorce, said Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng in Parliament on Monday.

“Like wills, CPF nominations are not revoked in the event of a divorce as we recognise that the CPF member may still intend to provide for the ex-spouse and children from the marriage,” Dr Tan said.

The nominations are revoked upon marriage to give the person an opportunity to make a new nomination.

Dr Tan was responding to questions from Ms Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) and Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Mountbatten).

Their questions came after a High Court judge observed earlier in March that it was “puzzling” for a pre-existing nomination to be automatically revoked by marriage under the law, but not divorce.

Justice Lee Seiu Kin made the observation in a case where an 80-year-old man, who had been divorced for 36 years, made two unsuccessful attempts via the online CPF portal to nominate his only child as the beneficiary of the funds in his CPF account.

His daughter successfully sought a declaration from the court that the second attempt was a valid one, superseding the previous nomination in which her father made her estranged mother his nominee.

Dr Tan said: “Nevertheless, the CPF Board includes reminders to all members to review their nominations in their annual statement of account.”

He also said the board intends to remind those members who have undergone divorce to review their nominations.

He added that CPF members should review and update their nominations when their life circumstances change.

To enable this, the board has enhanced the CPF nomination service to let members conveniently review their nominations and securely make changes, including via the CPF website, he said.

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Dr Tan also noted that the Ministry of Law is studying whether to reform the rule in the Wills Act that provides for the automatic revocation of wills in the event of marriage.

“(The) Ministry of Manpower and the CPF Board will likewise study the CPF nomination rules so that the policy remains relevant to the evolving needs and behaviours of our citizens.”

In a subsequent exchange, Ms Lim asked Dr Tan if the CPF Board keeps track of divorce orders to ensure letters are sent to divorcing account holders to remind them to review their nominations.

She also asked whether the board would consider revoking nominations upon divorce, as CPF contributions during marriage are already considered matrimonial assets that can be divided.

“So in that sense, an ex-spouse would already have his or her share of the CPF funds of the spouse at the point of divorce,” she said.

Ms Lim added that it would not be logical for most account holders to want to bequeath a legacy to their former spouse after the division of assets.

In response, Dr Tan said that the board intends to remind members who have undergone a divorce to review their nominations from May.

“We are actually currently working with the relevant agencies for information on the divorced members.”

He also said that “some of the points” Ms Lim brought up about the nomination rules are currently under review, adding that she could file a question in Parliament after May for updates on the review.

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