Not Ju$t You: Someone Needs to Know Where Your Money Is

Alevin Chan
Last updated Dec 21, 2021

Not Ju$t You, a SingSaver series, sheds light on millennial money matters we are hesitant to talk about, but really should.


Personal finances are meant to be private, but someone needs to know where your money is. Otherwise, an unexpected event could lead to the loss of your funds. 

We Asians tend to not talk about money, especially when it involves personal details like salaries, savings and investments. 

However, while this attitude can keep you from inadvertently offending the people around you, there are some good reasons to let someone know about your financial details. 

For example, let’s say you’ve invested a tidy sum in Bitcoin, and are waiting till you retire to cash out the returns. But alas, a sudden illness robs you of the ability to tell any of your family members. 

Your crypto holdings are now stuck in limbo, while your family members struggle on, unaware of the locked away funds that, ironically, would really help them out right now.

You wouldn’t want to be stuck in a scenario like this, would you? That’s why it’s important that besides you, somebody else knows where your money is, too. 

The good news is, there are a few different ways you can accomplish this. Let’s have a closer look at what your options are, the associated costs, and the pros and cons of each. 

Prepare a will

How it could work 

Preparing a will allows you to leave proper instructions and details behind, ensuring that your last wishes can be carried out in an orderly fashion. 

A will is a document that is legally protected, which means the terms contained therein are enforceable in a court of law. This, then, affords legal protection to the beneficiaries of the will. 

Your will will be managed by an official appointee, known as the Will’s Executor, whose duty is to ensure conditions in the will are discharged in a proper manner.  

Leaving a will behind can help prevent confusion and uncertainty among surviving family members, heading off any brewing fights or quarrels. 

Lastly, preparing a will is actually quite simple, and anyone of sound mind can write their own wills. There are even online templates to help guide you along.  

What could go wrong

A will has to be detailed and accurate, as unclear terms or vague instructions may be used as grounds to mount a legal challenge, voiding the will. Hence, those with complex finances and assets may need professional help to sort it all out. 

Someone needs to be the executor of your will. However, this is not a trifling matter, and you might face difficulty finding an appropriate person to take on this role. You can choose to appoint a professional, such as a lawyer, but doing so will incur a fee. 

Once written, wills should be updated if you undergo any significant changes in your financial situation. 

Also, it is necessary to make sure that the will is properly kept, secure against tampering, wear and tear, or loss. You may need to rent a safety deposit box, or subscribe to a will storage service. 

Costs

  • Writing your will 
    • Self written, or with online templates: free
    • Hiring a lawyer: S$200 to S$500 
  • Storing your will 
    • Professional will custody: S$80 to S$100 per annum
    • Bank deposit box: S$200 per annum onwards
    • Wills Registry of Singapore: S$50 one-time fee (this only backs up the contents of your will, and does not store the actual will itself)
  • Executing your will
    • Lawyer or professional executor: as quoted. It is customary for professionals to charge up to 5% of the assets collected in the will

Tell a loved one or close friend

How it could work

This option allows you to avoid sharing personal details with third parties, ensuring that your secrets are safe, and known only to a few trusted individuals.

What could go wrong

While telling a loved one or close friend seems like the natural choice, the decision is actually more fraught than you may think. 

For one, you have to pick the right person to spill the beans to, lest a careless word inadvertently betrays your private matters to people you’d rather keep in the dark. 

For another, the person you pick may not want to be burdened with such important information. 

Telling your immediate family members may not exactly guarantee you’ll be free of troubles. For instance, telling one of your children may cause misunderstandings and accusations of favouritism, even if you did so completely at random. 

Your spouse would probably be the best person to know about all your financial assets, but you’d be taking a gamble – what if old age robs their memory of important details?  

Costs

This option shouldn’t have any monetary costs associated with it. 

Convert to a joint account

How it could work

If nobody knows about, say, that secondary savings account you’ve been using to save up for a retirement trip, the money stored within can get lost. Converting your bank account into a joint account prevents that from happening. It also ensures that someone else can access your financial assets in your stead.

Once you’ve set up the account together, you can continue managing the assets in the account on your own. Your account co-holder needn’t know the details. 

To access your money, the joint-account holder simply needs to prove their identity at the bank, even if they have forgotten details like online banking login credentials, or the account number.

What could go wrong

You’ll need to pick the right person to co-share your account. This person should be trustworthy and upstanding, or you or your family may face theft or fraud.

Costs

Bank fees for opening and maintaining the bank account, if any.

Set up check-in emails

How it could work

Some investment platforms, cryptocurrency exchanges or online financial services have a check-in email function. Setting it up is a simple and effective way to prevent the loss of any funds you may have on these platforms. 

Should you fail to login during a predetermined period, say three months, the service automatically sends an email to check in. 

You can set this email to be sent to a loved one or close friend, which will alert them to the existence of your funds. They can then act to reclaim the money. 

As long as you are actively logging in, the existence of this portion of your funds can be kept secret indefinitely, allowing you greater control over your privacy.

What could go wrong

If you forget to log in within the period you set, the email will be triggered, letting the receiving party know about your account. 

The email address used for the check-in email may be abandoned by the owner, rendering the check-in email useless. 

This is a relatively new feature, and the platforms you use may not offer this service. 

Costs

Besides Internet connectivity, you may need to pay a maintenance or service fee.

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By Alevin Chan
An ex-Financial Planner with a curiosity about what makes people tick, Alevin’s mission is to help readers understand the psychology of money. He’s also on an ongoing quest to optimise happiness and enjoyment in his life.


Alevin Chan December 21, 2021 81676