If Your Parents Die Do You Inherit Their Debt – If you want to inherit an HDB flat in Singapore, maybe you have experienced something very difficult, such as the death of a family member. When you are at this difficult time in your life, thinking about HDB inheritance laws is very difficult.
You may have many questions such as “Can I inherit the HDB if I currently own a private property?”, “What if the HDB has another owner?”, “Who will get the HDB if the deceased has parents, brothers, sisters and children?” and so on. We want to help you understand this complicated topic.
If Your Parents Die Do You Inherit Their Debt
In this article, we will discuss HDB inheritance laws and regulations that you need to know:
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You need to have the right knowledge to inherit an HDB flat owned by a loved one such as your father or other deceased family member.
Whether the deceased owner left a will plays a large role in how HDB ownership is transferred.
Basically, if the deceased owner has left a will, the court has to test and confirm it, after which the title to the HDB will be transferred according to the will. But if there is no will, the property will be distributed according to the applicable law based on the owner’s religion.
When an HDB owner dies, his property will be disposed of and distributed according to applicable law.
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If the deceased owner is not a Muslim, the proceedings will be administered by the family court. His HDB will be distributed by will (also known as “intestate succession”). However, if he has not left a valid Will, it will be taken under the ‘Intestate Succession Act’. We will discuss these steps in detail in the next part of this article.
If the owner is Muslim, this will be decided by the Sharia court. When a Muslim owner dies, his HDB will be distributed according to his will (if any) and the ‘Islamic Inheritance Law’, also known as ‘Farayd’. We will discuss more about how this works in the next part of the article.
In theory, a “trustee” can be anyone, such as a child, spouse, or friend of the deceased owner. This person will control the entire process, be responsible for the preparation of documents, monitor the payment of lawyers and fill out forms, etc. The trustee’s duties are referred to in the Wills and Administration Act.
Where the deceased has left a will, the family court will issue a ‘grant of probate’ to appoint an ‘executor’ or ‘trustee’ of the will. A Probate Certificate is a court order authorizing the executor to carry out the instructions and distribute the HDB of the deceased owner to the beneficiaries according to the will. As a rule, the deceased owner names executors in his will.
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If the deceased owner does not make a will, one of the heirs, relatives or trusted friends can apply to the court to appoint them as such. Usually one of the beneficiaries, such as the owner’s spouse or child, is the executor.
But if there is no relative or friend of the owner who wants to be the arbitration manager, the court appoints an official as the executor.
In theory, it is possible to file an HDB flat inheritance application in court yourself, without a lawyer. However, if you need help with this, you can contact a lawyer to help you with the relevant documents.
For non-Muslims, probate procedures can be found on the Family Court website under Probate. Forms related to this process can be found here.
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For Muslims, you can apply for a Warisan Certificate on the Singapore Syariah Court website under Warisan.
If the deceased HDB owner has another owner, such as a sibling, spouse or other person, there are additional rules that apply on how ownership is transferred.
When your parents (or anyone else) apply for HDB, they are given 2 options (also known as “ownership methods”) when it comes to ownership:
In the case of joint tenancy, all co-owners have an equal interest in the property. In such cases, when one of the owners dies, the deceased’s interest will automatically pass to the surviving co-owner, regardless of whether the deceased owner had a will or not.
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Tommy and Jenny chose Joint Tenancy when they bought the HDB together. This means they both have the same interest in HDB. They have two children, Mark and Vivian.
Before his death, Tommy made a will to divide his HDB share equally between Jenny, Mark and Vivian.
Image 1: Tommy’s ownership will automatically pass to Jenny after his death as they bought their HDB under ‘Joint Tenancy’.
However, because Tommy and Jenny were under a “joint tenancy”, Tommy’s will was invalid. All of Tommy’s interests are automatically transferred to Jenny, who now has full ownership of HDB.
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In the case of Tenancy-in-Common, each owner has a separate interest in the HDB flat. This means that after the death of one of the owners, his share of the property passes based on the law of inheritance, and does not automatically pass to the joint owner.
When Tommy and Jenny bought the HDB, they chose to hold 60% and 40% of the property respectively under the Tenancy-in-Common principle. They have two children, Mark and Vivian.
Tommy writes a will to divide his 60% share of the estate equally between Jenny, Mark and Vivian (meaning 20% each).
Image 2: Tommy’s ownership will be transferred under the Wills and Succession Act after his death, as he and Jenny bought their HDB under a ‘Joint Tenancy’ agreement.
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Since the HDB is held on a ‘tenancy in common’ basis, Tommy’s 60% is now divided between his wife and children according to his wishes. The new ownership is:
Inheritance laws are different for Muslims and non-Muslims. It also depends on whether the owner wrote a will or not. We will look at all these scenarios below.
If the deceased owner did not leave a will, ownership of the HDB will be distributed under the ‘Intestate Succession Act’.
This Act stipulates how HDB ownership will be distributed if there is no will. Below are some common cases.
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If a deceased HDB owner has no heirs, ownership can pass to their nieces, nephews, aunts or uncles. Finally, if the deceased owner has no surviving relatives, ownership will be transferred to the state (ie, the government).
Unfortunately, Tommy recently passed away and left no will. Tommy is the sole owner of his HDB flat.
HDB ownership is divided so that Jenny (Tommy’s wife) gets 50% and Mark and Vivian (Tommy’s son) get 25% each.
First, the will must be verified in court through a legal process known as “probate.” Basically, the court will decide who the beneficiary is based on the will. After that, if the will is valid, the apartment will be transferred by the owner to the beneficiary chosen according to the will. This transfer of ownership through a valid will is called “testamentary inheritance.”
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Tommy owns 100% of his HDB flat and wrote a will to give his wife 80% of the HDB flat and his two children Mark and Vivian 10% each.
After Tommy’s death, the court proceeded to probate the will. Once the will is probated, ownership will be transferred according to Tommy’s instructions in his will.
If the owner is Muslim, the will will be executed according to Sharia law. To understand division, you first need to understand the “Islamic Law of Inheritance”, also known as “Faraid”.
According to Faraid, the spouse (husband) of the deceased owner and immediate family members will receive a larger share of the property. Other eligible relatives will receive a smaller share than immediate family members. In addition, male family members will receive double the ownership compared to female family members. For example, a son will receive twice as much as a daughter.
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Image 3: List of all possible beneficiaries of HDB inheritance under the Islamic Inheritance Law (Faraid). Screenshot taken from the Singapore Syariah Court website.
The image above is from the Singapore Syariah Court website where you can see all the possible beneficiaries of the estate under Faraid.
If you want to calculate the division of inheritance based on your own family structure, visit the online trial calculation on the Syriah Court Singapore website under the Inheritance section.
You can then select the number of brothers, sisters, cousins and other family members of the deceased family member, and see how many shares each person inherited.
How Do Intestacy Rules Operate In Relation To Your Children?
If the owner does not make a will, then the court will distribute ownership
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