In Singapore, there is no statistics on how many people has written their Wills and neither do we know the demographics of people who had their Wills written. But in Malaysia there is some statistics although still limiting.
There is a Will writing company in Malaysia company that has written more than 100,000 Wills for Malaysians. Due to the large “market share” in this industry, their statistics is quite useful. Their statistics shows that:
- Their oldest testator was a 101 years old lady who wrote her will in 2004.
- Their youngest testator was an 18 years old boy who just wrote his will in 2009.
- More than 80% of their testators are from the age group of 31-60 years old.
- 53.54% are male testators and 46.46% are female testators.
- Majority of testators under 30 years old are female.
- Majority of testators between 41-80 years old are male.
- The median age of testators who wrote their Will is approximately 40 years old.
From this we infer that:
- Majority of those who wrote their Wills are actually middle age persons when their liabilities are the greatest.
- There is no need to be married to write a will.
- There is no need to be rich to write a will.
- Very few old people are writing their Wills – contrary to popular believe that only the old are keen to have their Wills written.
So far, most of my clients who upon my recommendation have their Wills written are indeed within the middle age group between 35 to 45 years old. For this group, they are most open to the idea because their liabilities are huge and their children are still small. The most stubborn group belongs to those above 60 years old as they think they are immortals! Therefore, contrary to popular believe, most Wills are written when one is young and not when one is old!
Another popular fallacy is that a Will is only for the rich. But most of the time this is merely an excuse for not wanting to write a Will. For example, I have a client who asked me about how insurance proceeds will be distributed if a death claim is made because he was buying some insurance from me. I told him he can either make an insurance nomination or write a Will. He immediately reacted and told me that a Will is only for the rich. I replied that he was buying insurance precisely because he is NOT rich and thus needed insurance to create the liquidity. But he still did not want to write a Will despite having a large estate from the insurance payout. What does it mean? It means that most people are just giving an excuse that writing a Will is for the rich.
What are the reasons why people do not want to write a Will? Here are some reasons I can think of:
- Ignorance. No idea what is a Will for and instead of acknowledging ignorance, they just give an excuse that they know best.
- Perceived it is not important since little is mentioned about its importance. The reason why many people buys tons of useless insurance is because there are more than 20,000 insurance agents (inclusive of those “licensed” insurance agents and banks’ salesmen) harassing the man-in-the-street to buy insurance although most of these are toxic nuclear waste. But for Will writing, nobody tells the man-in-the-street its importance. So the ordinary folks think it is not important since there is no salesman harassing them. In other words, without advertisement and marketing, people think it is unimportant.
- Do not know whom to approach. This is related to (2) above since it is normally the salesman who close the deal. For Will writing, there is no salesman harassing the individual and thus the individual will have no idea whom he can approach even if he wants to write a Will.
Actually, one of the reason why a person should NOT write a Will is because most Wills written are totally nonsense and can cause more harm if there was no Will written. I have written many horror stories on how my clients got cheated for having their Wills written in a detrimental fashion. There was a case in which I had to compensate the legal fee for my client because the lawyer whom I recommended for his Will wrote a nonsensical Will. I was and still bitten about the experience which I share in this post: Professionalism goes beyond instruction taking. Of course I learn this painful lesson and ceased using that lawyer’s service and change to another business partner that is more suitable and is able to integrate seamlessly with my financial planning.
What should one do in the light of this? Here are three tips:
- The solution to ignorance is self education. Like many other financial matters, always assume nobody cares about yourself except yourself. One can read up and do research. There is no rocket science to it.
- The lack of advertisement, marketing and harassment from salespersons do not necessarily mean the product or service is lousy. I can cite 2 examples. Index funds are known to be the best investment instruments but nobody sells. The lack of publicity is because it pays no commission. How about private tutors? The good one does not do any marketing and advertising because their reputation is known through word of mouth. In fact, it was reported recently that some private tutors earn so much that they have become Accredited Investors!
- Finally, whom can you approach to have your Will written? I am afraid this is the wrong question to ask. A Will is merely a tool for estate planning just like an insurance is merely a tool for Protection planning. Without Protection planning, an insurance product may become a toxic waste and useless. Without Estate planning, a Will could be useless and at times worst than without a Will. So far, 100% of my clients who have written their Will without estate planning wrote useless Will and they were better off not writing their Will. For more information, read this FAQs on Estate Planning.
This article appeared on CPF Board's IM$avvy:http://www.cpf.gov.sg/imsavvy/blog_post.asp?postid=959538728-159-59167742
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