Ever wondered what would happen to your insurance policies’ proceeds after you’ve passed on? It’s time you find out more about beneficiary nomination and what it truly entails.
The nomination of beneficiary or beneficiaries may not be discussed often, but it is something you should familiarise yourself with if you are a policyowner of whole life insurance, health insurance, personal accident insurance or any policies with death benefits.
Most people in Singapore aren’t comfortable talking about death and all things related to this natural phenomenon. However, it is important that you know what your options are when it comes to determining how and to whom your insurance benefits will be paid out after you’ve passed on. It is always good to plan ahead, don’t you think?
Table of contents
Why should you make a beneficiary nomination?
Under the Insurance Act, policyowners are free to nominate beneficiaries for their insurance policies at the time of buying a policy or at any time after the policy is issued.
In essence, the nomination of a beneficiary helps to ensure that the benefits of your insurance policies are paid out to the right person, in the right amount, as instructed by you.
Why should you consider making a beneficiary nomination? Well, insurance nomination offers policyowners a clear and cost-effective (free!) legal means to distribute the policy benefits to their nominees.
Is the nomination of beneficiary compulsory?
No, it is not compulsory regardless of whether or not you’ve made a will to distribute your estate.
Just be aware that in the event of death and presented with a copy of the insured’s death certificate, the insurer may pay the policy benefits — up to a certain amount — to any person who’s considered a proper claimant, such as the policyowner’s child, spouse, parent, sibling, nephew or niece.
While that sure sounds nice theoretically, you can’t rule out the possibilities of disputes arising when the time comes for your nearest and dearest to claim the proceeds of your insurance policies.
Trust nomination vs revocable nomination
|Policyowner’s considerations||Trust nomination||Revocable nomination|
|Can I retain control over the policy for as long as I’m alive?||No||Yes|
|Who gets the policy proceeds?||Nominees get living benefits and death benefits||Nominees only receive death benefits. Living benefits are paid to me.|
|Can I change my nomination by myself at any time?||No||Yes|
|Can I name nominees who are not my spouse or children?||No||Yes|
|Can I make a will post-nomination?||The will has no impact on the earlier trust nomination||The revocable nomination made prior to your will creation will be revoked|
|What happens if my nominee passes away before me?||Policy proceeds will be passed on to the estate of the deceased nominee||The nomination is revoked if only one nominee is named. Otherwise, the surviving nominees share in the deceased nominee’s portion|
|Are the policy proceeds protected against claims from creditors in the event of bankruptcy?||Yes||No, but for CPFIS policies which have not been withdrawn under Section 15 of the CPF Act, the living proceeds of such policies are protected against claims from creditors|
#1 You lose all rights to your policy
Only proceed with a trust nomination if you are 100% certain about it. For starters, know that you’ll be giving away both living benefits and death benefits to your nominee(s) when you make a trust nomination. You, however, are still required to pay the premiums for the policy.
Due to the exchange of ownership and rights of the policy, you will no longer have the power to make any changes to the policy, take a loan under the policy, surrender the policy, request to switch funds, change the sum assured, make withdrawals or even revoke the nomination.
To execute the above-mentioned, you’ll have to get all your nominee(s) or a trustee who isn’t yourself to give their written consent.
#2 You can only nominate your spouse and/or children
For trust nomination, keep in mind that the only ones whom you can nominate are your spouse and/or children.
#3 You need at least one trustee
To make a trust nomination, you have to name at least one trustee to ensure that your policy benefits are properly administered and distributed to your beneficiary or beneficiaries.
Your trustee or trustees must be above 18. Your trustee can also be your nominee. You may also change your trustee or trustees at any time, subject to the prevailing law.
While you can name yourself as the trustee, remember that you as the life assured are not eligible to receive policy proceeds or give consent for the revocation of the trust nomination on behalf of your other nominee(s).
#4 Your will doesn’t automatically take priority over your trust nomination
If you change your mind about the trust nomination you’ve made and would like to draft a will to distribute your estate including the proceeds from your insurance policies in the event of your death, make sure that the trust nomination is revoked first! Remember, you can only give away property that belongs to you via a valid will.
#1 You retain all rights as policy owner
While the death benefits will still go to your nominee(s), you will continue to receive living benefits, if any.
Also, a revocable nomination lets you enjoy more flexibility and freedom. You do not need any consent from your nominee(s) to make changes to your policy. You are allowed to change, add or remove nominees without their consent. You have the power to revoke the revocable nomination without their consent, too.
#2 Any legal entity can be nominated
With a revocable nomination, you are free to nominate any legal entity (ie. individual, association or corporation) as your beneficiary.
You may, of course, nominate your spouse and children, but you’re not restricted to just those individuals. You can nominate your sibling, parent or favourite aunty if you want to — just not your pet(s)!
#3 Your valid will can revoke the revocable nomination
This applies if your insurance company is aware that you have a valid will. Your insurance company will distribute proceeds from your policy according to the latest properly executed will as per your wishes.
To ensure that this happens after you’ve passed on, you need to first have your revocable nomination revoked. While you’re at it, be sure to declare that you’ve made a valid will.
Things to consider before nomination of beneficiary
- Decide who you want to name as your beneficiary or beneficiaries
- Decide if you want to make a trust nomination or revocable nomination
- Use the right form (e.g. prescribed Trust Nomination Form or prescribed Revocable Nomination Form)
- Specify the percentage of benefits you want each nominee to receive, ensuring the total add up to 100% of the policy proceeds
- Ensure details of the policy are accurate
- Ensure the witnesses and trustees, if any, meet the requirements set out in the Nomination Form
How to make a beneficiary nomination
To make a beneficiary nomination, the policyholder has to be at least 18 and is the life insured under the policy. Follow these steps.
- Use a Trust Nomination Form or Revocable Nomination Form to make a trust nomination or revocable nomination over the policy respectively. You can get the necessary forms from your insurance company or insurance agent.
- Complete the form in full with accurate information in the presence of two adult witnesses who are at least 21. They must not be any of your nominees or the spouse of any of your nominees.
- For both trust nomination and revocable nomination, you must specify the percentage share of the policy proceeds that each nominee is poised to receive. The total of the percentages specified for all the nominees you have named must add up to 100% of the policy proceeds!
- Notify your insurance company that you’ve made a nomination and send them a copy of your Nomination Form.
Types of forms you can get from your insurance company
- Trust Nomination Form
- Revocation of Trust Nomination Form
- Appointment, or Revocation of Appointment, of Trustee of Policy Money Form
- Revocable Nomination Form
- Revocation of Revocable Nomination Form
- Notice of Revocation of Revocable Nomination Form
Each insurance company has its own forms, so make sure to get the right ones. Alternatively, you may reach out to your insurance agent to have the forms sent over to you.
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