Last Wishes: Financial Planning, Will Planning and Funeral Planning in Singapore (2016)

[The book was written by Alfred Chia, Rayney Wong, Darren T K Cheng, Jenny Tay.]


I did not foresee I would be writing this at my biological age; living in a developed state with much peace and general stability, and a healthcare system which is deemed the ‘least imperfect’ in the world (a quote from a 2014 Bloomberg article on Singapore healthcare I think).

But death, accidents, disease, violence, bombs or disaster have no regard for your age, intellect, talent, or your kindness. It simply comes.

Further, I presume we would like our estate (the legal name for your assets after your death) to be wisely distributed or used. Perhaps you might want to bequeath 10% to a charity or make sure your deceased sibling’s children get better financial support. Whatever one has owned prior to death cannot after all be taken into the grave… and thus I return to the topic at hand.

I began on the book because I felt the need to be a basic/secondary source of legal advice to some people I know. [I had acted in a similar capacity before with regards to bankruptcy/debt law. I had also learnt about some elements of insurance coverage, specifically carcinoma-in-situ from deceased finance speaker Dennis Ng’s (吴加万) book. (I think my mother brought his works to my attention). This is broadly why I urge people to gain some basic/rudimentary legal knowledge.] I have likewise seen so many deaths in these last few years.

Review and Notes

Overall the book is a very easy read – roughly I read the Introduction, Chapters 1, 2 and 4 in about half an hour during a Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) ride. The font is comparatively big and in bold. It is also the most current book I have found from the National Library Board (NLB); published Mar 2016. Anything more current, then one has to read the latest case judgments and consult a Wills & Probate lawyer.

This review shall limit itself, focusing (mainly) on parts of your estate which cannot be dictated or distributed by your Will. Existing Singaporean laws would take precedence.

  • Immovable property (house/shop/office) under joint tenancy; joint bank accounts; joint investments etc.
  • Assets under your trusteeship
  • Certain Central Provident Fund (CPF) assets
  • Some insurance policies with nominations (I shall not discuss them here as they are beyond my comprehension at this point. Some may be decided by Section 73 of the Conveyancing and Law of Property Act)

Some examples are as follows.

  • In the joint tenancy of say a Housing Development Board (HDB) flat, the right of survivorship is enacted. Ownership is transferred to the remaining joint tenant(s) regardless of your Will.
  • Your CPF within this context includes:
    • (a) Remainder of your Ordinary, Special, Medisave and Retirement Accounts [RA];
    • (b) Remainder from your CPF Life annuity premium;
    • (c) Leftovers from the RA ‘savings deposited with a participating bank or used to buy annuity from an approved insurer’
    • (d) Discounted SingTel (ST) stocks

A nomination is required to guide your distribution of the above 4 items. In the absence of nomination, the distribution would be decided by the Public Trustee (Ministry of Law) under the Intestate Succession Act or Section 112 of the Administration of Muslim Law Act (see the Public Trustee Office, Ministry of Law website for more information). The authors advise wisely that this CPF nomination is not static as circumstances may change. For instance, beneficiaries may pass on before you. Thus, one needs to conduct periodic reviews – this requires discipline, planning and intelligent/trustworthy counsel as necessary.

Hope this post will open up other discussions on related issues like the Advance Medical Directive (AMD) – MOH website was last updated 16 Aug 2013; and I hope that for everyone, each day of life can be cherished and time well spent.


Lionel Barber (ed.). (2013). Lunch with the FT: 52 Classic Interviews.

[The volume was published by Portfolio Penguin.]

I came to this book seeking George Soros, but I found another interesting personality – Michael O’Leary. The interview took place on 18 Dec 2009. He was listed as CEO of Ryanair. Here are a few interesting things I found:

  • He said: “Email is rubbish.” He would only fax or call/talk to someone. He had no computer or Blackberry.
  • His daily reports consisted those of sales and (plane) punctuality. (? In 2009, the airline’s global market value was only second to Singapore Airlines) He stated: “Business should be simple.”
  • In spite of his ‘colourful language’ he apparently was named by Barron’s as one of the world’s most respected CEOs.

Well to Soros (interview – 4 Aug 2006). He of infamy, played on the value of the British pound in 1992 (Black Wednesday); was then named by Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamed as a major speculator on the Malaysian Ringgit in the same decade.

  • Well, he had bet $10 billion to gain $1 billion from Black Wednesday.
  • Investing so much has not made him immune to the fear of losses, which generates pain for him.
  • He initiated the Open Society Foundations. (See video Staff – George Soros)
  • He is honest, in some respects at least. He admits that in the end he writes books for himself; to “clarify” his ideas (I found one of his books very interesting – a very short one – but very thought provoking). He had, to my understanding of one Chinese language comic biography, wanted to become an academic like his mentor Karl Popper.

A memorable verse (from reflection)

The past is present but it is not the here and now…


Final Remarks – Dividend Investing – Mark Lin (2011)

For background, please feel free to peruse the earlier posts on the book.

After all that, it boils down to mathematics, which made it rather interesting. Now Lin utilises the Perpetuity Dividend Discount Model to arrive at his Reference price (which helps decide whether or not to buy the stock/unit/share).

Perhaps as a recap (including for myself) the equation is:

Dividend ÷ (cost of equity – perpetual growth rate)

where the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate can act as a substitute for the perpetual growth rate. So basic mathematics informs us that as the denominator (cost of equity – perpetual growth rate) rises, the reference price declines. There you have an inverse relationship with the numerator (Dividend). If one distrusts the reported (GDP) growth rates or wishes to be more conservative (thereby ensuring a greater margin of safety), one might do reduce the reported growth rates? This then increases the denominator. Is this a sound usage of the formula? Hmmm…very interesting indeed.


Insurance – Health – Singapore 2017

Like Mr Lim Kim Tong (MediShield Life – Premium for Aviva Integrated Plan jumped again. 3 Oct 2015), my Integrated Shield Plan (IPs) premiums (insurance costs) increased.  Arguably, this was due the transformation from Medishield into Medishield Life; and also heightened claims from public A/B1 wards hospitals (12%) and private hospitals (17%) in recent years (No increase in premiums for first year of MediShield Life: IP insurers. 26 Jun 2015. Channel NewsAsia). This has induced me to scrutinise the changes, and hopefully make wiser longer term financial decisions thereafter.

Selected notes

MOH = Ministry of Health, Singapore

‘…the Government will pay 90% of the net increase in MediShield Life premiums (i.e., after other subsidies) above MediShield premiums.’ (MediShield Life: Providing better protection, for all, for life. 20 Dec 2015. Government of Singapore). By my understanding of the various materials, the Transitional Subsidy would end in 2019.


“12b. In the fifth year of MediShield Life, after transitional subsidies have been phased out, the maximum premium increase compared with MediShield premiums today will be $30 per month for the high income.  Singaporeans from lower-income households will continue to benefit from premium subsidies and premium increases from MediShield premiums today will be no more than $11 per month.” (Government accepts recommendations of MediShield Life Review Committee; announces $4 billion in subsidies and support for MediShield Life premiums. 24 Jun 2014. MOH).

To elucidate, those who can access the Premium Subsidies:

• Do not have a second property

• Have Household monthly income per person of $2,600 and below

• Occupy a HDB flat or private housing with annual value of $21,000 and lower


You are strongly advised to seek the professional advice of insurance professionals before making any decision with regard to any of the Medisave-Approved Integrated Shield Plans.” (MOH)

Longer term, one may downgrade one’s IPs to the Standard B1 type [or revert to (basic government) Medishield Life]. Looking at the years between 66 and 70 for instance, annual premiums can reach $2,553. This is triple the (basic government) MediShield Life premiums.

MOH provides a  <Comparison of Integrated Shield Plans>. At the time of access, the Sample Policy Contracts of Integrated Shield Plans from the site were dated 30 May 2016.

I wonder whether downgrading involves repeated underwriting required in an upgrade. [“The insurers are allowed to assess, approve with or without exclusions, or reject applications for upgrading based on their own risk assessment frameworks, as these are essentially business risk decisions.” See Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB). (12 Dec 2016). Private Medical Insurance Scheme.]

Oh… it seems I have one answer from Aviva <5 things you need to know about the new Standard IP> dated 17 Mar 2016. For non-Aviva IPs policyholders, no further underwriting is needed. However, Aviva policyholders who had selected moratorium underwriting do. (With moratorium underwriting, no underwriting was required at the beginning of the original policy. “Any new, unexpected medical conditions arising after commencement of Life Assured’s coverage will be covered, subject to the terms and conditions of the policy.”)

Additionally, among other exclusions/differences, it is stated that “the Standard IP does not cover pre- and post-hospitalisation treatment, overseas emergency treatment, or provide additional inpatient benefits for major illnesses.’

Do note that Standard IP premiums are also subject to changes.

Other references
– Rather useful and comprehensive PDF document from MOH entitled <Welcome to Medishield Life> (Annex A) under the MOH page MediShield Life Coverage for All Singapore Residents to start on 1 November 2015. (2 Aug 2015).

(13 Oct 2015). MediShield Life: How to make the right choice (Part 1). Aviva. See also (Part 2). The two combined is a reproduction of a Sunday Times article dated 30 Aug 2015.

About 60% of Singapore Citizens and PRs have IPs.


Dementia – Causes; Traits; Case Study Resource

I am following up on a Chinese news report last month on Singaporean television that raised the links between air pollution and dementia; as well as a review on a touching book.

Article Review

Emily Underwood wrote in her 26 Jan 2017 article in Science magazine <The Polluted Brain> of two studies:

  • “…11-year epidemiological study… (for) Translational Psychiatry, University of Southern California (USC) researchers will report that living in places with PM2.5 exposures higher than the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) standard of 12µg/m3 nearly doubled dementia risk in older women.” [EPA is a United States government organ]
  • The University of Toronto in The Lancet (Elsevier owned medical journal): concerning the 6.6 million residents of Canadian Ontario,those living within 50 meters of a major road—where levels of fine pollutants are often 10 times higher than just 150 meters away—were 12% more likely to develop dementia than people living more than 200 meters away.”

Underwood does make a balanced call though, highlighting that this research angle is still in its infancy… Causation remains to be fully proven.

Comic Book Review

Tony Husband. Take Care, Son: The Story of My Dad and His Dementia. (2014). Constable and Robinson. London.

A moving book. Tony the author writes about his father’s slow demise to dementia. His father (Ron) gave him the final farewell by saying: Take care son. He had been bedridden and largely unresponsive by then.

Intellectually, it was a breeze to read (the only obstacles were my tears choking me back); and the pictures helped. (Learning need not necessarily be tedious, perhaps a change in medium i.e. not merely words, can help…) Dementia is a different kind of forgetting. Ron for instance routinely forgot to put on the handbrake in the car while parking; or did not turn off the tap. For Ron, his childhood memories were revived. That is strange/interesting to note.

There is a list of resources at the back of the book for people who want to know more about the disease. There are different types of dementia.


Refrigerator purchases – Buyer’s note

Prepare for a mini-avalanche of information in February 2017!

On 11 January, I was asked to go along to buy the above. A selection of internet sourced research and/or information from sales personnel is found below:

  • consider a fridge (interchangeable with refrigerator) with movable shelves should you want more flexibility
  • temperature controls for different food types (this takes the form of different compartments based one the models I physically viewed)
  • ??? (for verification) freshness features like air purifiers and dual evaporators (where high humidity in frozen section keeps odours away?)
  • Door in door i.e. (assuming a freezer section on top) the lower and usually bigger door has a mini door for you to take out frequently consumed drinks e.g. milk/juices. However, the salesperson advised us that clip that secures the minidoor might spoil. The inferred consequence is the trouble/expense of repair with the preceding leakage of cold air leading to power wastage
  • More energy efficiency ticks might not result in lower overall energy consumption – this is due to the mentality that the fridge saves energy, so subconsciously one might utilise it even more! Thus, consider lower total energy consuming fridges in the first place
  • If durability is the top of your priority list, then consider those with door seals that are mould-resistant and retain suction power to minimise air leakage (which as you have seen helps reduce energy consumption)

Hope this helps you!  : )