CPF Nominations in Marriages

Getting married or remarried? Here are some tips on what you should do for your will and CPF funds.

Prior wills and nominations revoked upon marriage

Generally speaking under Singapore law, a will and a nomination for CPF funds are automatically revoked upon marriage. This is to safeguard the interest of the immediate and new family members i.e. spouse and children.

The important thing to note is that if you are getting married or re-married, it is prudent to re-do your will as well as your CPF nomination.

Automatic revocation of CPF nominations in sham marriages

In a 2016 High Court case of Soon Chwee Guan (deceased), the deceased left surviving him his wife and two sisters. Soon had made a CPF nomination in favour of his two sisters before he got married to Diao Yanmei. CPF Board considered his nomination to be revoked upon marriage, so that Diao would have been the sole beneficiary under the intestacy rules.

The High Court decided that Soon Chwee Guan’s marriage to Diao Yanmei did not automatically revoke his CPF nomination to his sisters because of the unique circumstances of the case.

At trial the court found that there was clear evidence that the marriage was a sham marriage. Not only were his close family members ignorant of the marriage, Soon’s friend testified that Soon told him it was a sham marriage to enable Diao to stay and work in Singapore and Diao paid Soon $4,000 with an additional $400 monthly sum. Furthermore, Diao simply did not have any knowledge of Soon’s personal eating and drinking habits; she did not know his favourite beer or that he did not eat seafood.

Spirit of the CPF Act

The court scrutinized the CPF Act to find the intention of Parliament with regards the automatic revocation of the nomination upon marriage, and found that since the intention was to safeguard the immediate family members and to make financial provision for such persons, and that since a spouse of a sham marriage was not an immediate family member, such a sham marriage should not trigger the automatic revocation of the nomination. As such a sham marriage does not fall within the meaning of “marriage” in S25(5)(a) of the CPF Act.

The court also reaffirmed past decisions that sham marriages were valid under the Women’s Charter if they fulfilled the requirements under that Act, since the motives of marrying parties do not affect its validity (though the motives for a marriage may be relevant in considering whether the parties committed an offence under immigration or manpower laws).

Tips for couples getting married or remarried

To be clear about your beneficiaries in you will and for your CPF funds, and to avoid disputes, you should do a fresh will and do a fresh CPF nomination upon your marriage or re-marriage.

For assistance on writing or changing your Wills, please contact us to make an appointment.

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