How to deal with expat death in Singapore

Updated 2022-06-01 15:20

It's hard to face, but there comes a time when we must end our time on Earth. While we can't predict when we'll die, we can certainly prepare for it. And when you're an expat in another country, it's even more important to sort things out beforehand. That way, your loved ones can be taken care of, whether they're also overseas with you or not.

Here's what to expect from how Singapore handles deaths, especially expat ones.

If you're an Employment Pass (EP) holder

When you pass away as an EP holder, your employer needs to notify the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) within seven days of your death. In turn, they're actually not the ones who inform your bank of your death; this will have to be done by either your spouse or next-of-kin. As a response, the banks will then freeze the accounts that are solely in your name. The freezing of accounts won't happen if they're joint accounts.

If you have any dependants who have come to Singapore with you and have Dependant's Passes, what happens after will depend on if they're on the lease with you at the place of residency. If they are, then they can stay there unless they wish to move away. In that case, the landlord will terminate the contract. If your dependents aren't on the lease with you, then the lease will no longer be valid. However, many landlords will allow family members of the deceased to stay as residents until the end of the lease. Otherwise, they may only be given until the end of the month to move. They can get a 30-day pass from your employer to settle everything; then, they must leave the country.

The good news is that your employer is responsible for not just your burial and cremation costs but also the repatriation of your remains or ashes. They need to also pay for your family's repatriation, including their belongings.

Writing a will

Wills written in Singapore will naturally be valid for your assets in this country. However, if you've got assets elsewhere, it's highly recommended that you write wills for those specific places. A will written in Singapore is valid in England, but for all other nations, it's better to err on the side of caution and create separate wills.

If you have children, then the other biological parent will gain custody of them after your death. But if you've named someone else in your will to take custody of your children, then there may be a custody battle between them and the other biological parent. If both you and your partner (their other legal guardian) have died, then they'll become wards of Singapore if you either don't have a will or you have one but it's from another country.

Without a valid will, all of your immovable and movable property will be distributed according to Singaporean law.

Repatriating the deceased

There's quite a bit of paperwork involved in repatriating the deceased from Singapore. This includes death certificates and export permits. Not to mention, the government needs to legalize all these documents.

If it's too much for the surviving loved ones to handle, know that there are services to help, such as Flying Home.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.