COVID-19 – A timely reminder

Tuesday, 21 July 2020
Survey shows that Singaporeans are ill-prepared for end of life and incapacitating events.

Singaporean adults need to ensure they are much better prepared for end-of-life events and incapacity, says STEP, the worldwide association for those advising families across generations, after a survey of 495 people found only 28 per cent have a finished will and, of those, a significant proportion feel it is not adequate or up-to-date.

A further 56 per cent of respondents reported they had no will at all, while the remaining 16 per cent said their will was currently under development. The survey also reveals that 39 per cent have no delegations or directives in place should they become incapacitated, such as Lasting Powers of Attorney.

STEP says the numbers show that the ‘it will never happen to me’ mentality is alive and well in Singapore and people should think much more carefully about preparing for end-of-life events and incapacity. STEP is calling for more education, particularly with respect to issues like the impact of digital technology and trusts on the administration and succession to their property. Irrespective of culture, age, occupation and income; death and disability are issues that all adults need to consider if they want to ensure their wishes are carried out.

Findings include:

  • 56 per cent of adult Singaporeans do not have a will. Of those remaining, 14 per cent have one that is up to date, 14 per cent say they have one but it is inadequate or does not properly express their wishes, and 16 per cent have no will currently but claim to have one in development.
  • People are relatively more unprepared for disability and incapacity than they are for death, with only 39 per cent of those responding saying they have lasting powers of attorney or delegations in place.
  • Of those respondents who have children, just 34 per cent have nominated a guardian in the event of death, which potentially places the children of the other 66 per cent at risk of family disputes and the cost/disruption of court cases.
  • 62 per cent of those who own businesses do not have a succession plan. While it is common for Singaporeans to jointly own assets, most who did were unaware of what will happen to those assets if they died or became incapacitated.
  • Singaporeans are known for their adoption of technology and most are immersed in the digital world with multiple digital assets. However, 65 per cent indicated that they were unaware of what would happen to these assets in the event of their death.

Bock Eng Sim TEP, Branch Chair at STEP Singapore, said: ‘Research on estate planning and the factors that impact estate planning decisions is relatively limited in Singapore. This survey provides an interesting insight into Singaporeans and is consistent with the lament of asset owners as they look to the development of the COVID-19 situation in Singapore and across the world, that they have not made adequate arrangements for their families and loved ones. Singaporeans are not adequately prepared for end of life and disability. The results point to the need for more education on the importance of planning for your family’s future, and the role that STEP-qualified advisors can play in this.’

Contact details

For more information, or to request an interview with Bock Eng Sim, please contact:

Notes to Editors

About the research:

The research was led by STEP Academic Community members, Professor of Practice Adam Steen TEP and Mr Marc Olynyk from Deakin University, and Professor Steven D’Alessandro TEP from the University of Tasmania. The report sets out the results of an online survey of the general population in Singapore. The survey invited people to share their experience and engagement with estate planning and various issues surrounding the intergenerational transfer of assets.


About STEP:

STEP is the global professional association for practitioners who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning. STEP works to improve public understanding of the issues families face in this area and promotes education and high professional standards among its members. STEP members help families plan for their futures, from drafting wills to issues surrounding international families, protection of the vulnerable, family businesses and philanthropic giving. Full STEP members, known as TEPs, are internationally recognised as experts in their field, with proven qualifications and experience.

The STEP Singapore Branch was first established as a chapter of STEP in 1997 and to date has more than 700 members comprising experts and professionals skilled and trained in all aspects of estate, trust, succession and wealth planning.