It’s difficult to think of, but what happens to our children if the worst should happen to us? Who will take care of them immediately, and who gets long-term custody? We explain what you need to know about legal guardianship in Singapore – and the importance of an updated will.
Many parents who move to Singapore with their families make careful plans for nearly everything. We take time to ensure we have quality jobs that will see our kids supported; we research top international schools until we find the perfect fit; and we make a shortlist of family-friendly neighbourhoods and weigh up the pros and cons of condos and houses until we find a place we feel at home. However, what we neglect to think about are worst-case scenarios. More specifically, what will happen if you and your partner pass away, and your children are left without parents. It’s an awful thing to think about, but as parents, understanding legal guardianship in Singapore is an important topic to cover. Here’s all you need to know.
Legal guardianship in Singapore
What you need to know about legal guardianship as an expat in Singapore
The guardianship of your children, as uncomfortable as it may be to think about, is important to consider. This is especially true if you are an expat and likely to be far from extended family who would usually take over if your children are orphaned. While we all hope this will never happen, knowing how legal guardianship works in Singapore is essential, as there are steps you can take now to help.
In Singapore, when both parents pass away within a short amount of time, your children will be placed under the care of an appointed temporary guardian. If you haven’t appointed one, your children will more than likely be placed in the care of the courts until a legal guardian can be appointed, or your will can be executed.
This means that your children will usually be placed under foster care. While it’s an important part of the legal fabric of Singapore, being homed with strangers can be incredibly challenging for kids who have just lost their parents. But there are plans you can make now to minimise this time…
How do I avoid foster care for my children?
First off, it is essential that you appoint a temporary legal guardian. This is most commonly done by amending your will or with a formal letter submitted to your lawyer, or the guardian themselves. While technically anyone can be a temporary legal guardian, legal experts recommend appointing a family member or close family friend who is capable of caring for your children until a legal guardian can be found or can take over the long-term care of your kids.
Appoint a temporary guardian
Because you currently live in Singapore, it would be beneficial (and reduce the chances of your children being placed in foster care) if you appoint a temporary guardian who is currently residing in the country. It is also essential that the person you appoint as a legal guardian is aware of the decision and has accepted their role. Also be aware that if your child is an infant, and you have appointed two different legal guardians, the Guardian of Infants Act states that both guardians will act jointly to provide care until a permanent legal guardian can be found.
What about our helper?
While foreign domestic helpers often come to be an important part of your family, relied on for nearly everything, they might not make the best choice to be a temporary legal guardian. If their visa is sponsored by their employer, and their employer passes away, the visa usually becomes void, forcing them to leave the country. This could put their ability to care for your kids in jeopardy.
The importance of a will
Ensure that you have an updated will that appoints a permanent legal guardian. Like temporary guardians, you can appoint whomever you like to be your child’s legal guardian. In Singapore, however, when a child is placed in the care of a temporary legal guardian, it is up to the court to determine who will be the permanent legal guardian, even if you name someone in your will. This measure is taken to ensure that your children are offered the best care possible.
What your appointed legal guardian needs to know
What this means for any appointed legal guardian is that they are likely to have their life come under scrutiny by the court. It is not uncommon for the court to request information like proof of employment and salary, copies of bank statements, proof of residence, and more. When you appoint a legal guardian, be sure to inform them that they will be required to provide this information when they go to Singapore to assume guardianship of your kids.
After the court determines the permanent legal guardianship (in most cases, they will validate the person named in the will as able to care for your children) a letter of guardianship will be issued. And while most countries will honour this letter, there are some who might request further information or proof of guardianship. It’s best to check with your embassy or legal expert to clarify what applies to your situation.
Also consider this…
One thing that goes hand-in-hand with ensuring that your children have an appointed temporary and permanent guardian is provide a safety net for their financial wellbeing. Possibly the best solution is to secure a quality life insurance plan, and also consider Accidental Death and Dismemberment insurance. These plans will pay your beneficiaries a lump sum should you die or lose a limb, and can make all the difference in maintaining financial stability for your children during a most difficult time.
To learn more about your insurance options, contact Pacific Prime Singapore. Their insurance experts can help you secure a solution that ensures that should anything happen to you, your family is covered.
This post is sponsored by Pacific Prime.