Previously, such an exercise involved submitting a hard-copy form to the registry that included details of the person who drew up the will and where it was held.
The registry was set up in 2001 by the Ministry of Law to act as a central information centre for all wills that have been drawn up and registered with the Public Trustee, who will keep the information for 120 years from the date of birth of the person who made the will.
The contents of the will are not kept in the registry, which also does not automatically update its records if a will has been cancelled. The cost of searching for a will remains at S$10.
Last month, the Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office (IPTO), which maintains the depository, published a practice circular addressed to all law firms and wills-drafting companies, informing them of the changes.
This is not surprising because the number of deposits had been increasing over the years. According to the press, there were a total of 14,647 deposits last year compared with 10,904 in 2012.
In Singapore, anyone aged 21 and above can write a will, which is validated with the signatures of two witnesses who are not its beneficiaries. One does not need to go to a lawyer to write a will nor deposit his will information to make the document effective. It is also not compulsory for one to register the existence of his will.
Even so, I always advise and help my clients deposit their will information with the registry even though it’s not compulsory. This will help ensure a more efficient way of administering estate matters for family members when a person passes away. However, since even with cost of $50, Wills Registry merely stores basic information of the Will and do not store the Will itself, you may consider other more comprehensive services like Will Custody.
Disclaimer: I am a Professional Estate Planner and you can contact me for professional advice on will writing and estate planning.