dia muertos
Ever wondered why people say “happy” before Halloween?

I remember it as if it were yesterday. We were 18 years old, had just graduated, and said goodbye to our school friends as we parted ways to attend different universities. Then, just 3 weeks into our school holiday, we all found ourselves in an unplanned reunion at a funeral. The deceased was only 18 years old, with his life ahead of him, but now just laid there as a still corpse.

Not all of us will marry, not all of us will have children. We may never get our dream job, go on our dream holiday, or own our dream home. But there is one certainty in life, and that is death. Nothing in life is a guarantee except for that. All of us will die one day. In all of human history, nobody has escaped death (with the exception of maybe Enoch from the Bible and Henrietta Lacks whose cancer cells are still alive and used today in research). And despite this absolute certainty, hardly anyone prepares for it and it always seems to come “too soon” for many people. People will instead prepare for other less likely events, such as what they would do with their TOTO/4D winnings. Yes, it is a morbid topic, but this is the natural cycle of life. Everything that lives must also die.

Since that experience as a teenager, I’ve had my own will. A lot of people I know haven’t written a will – ever. A common misconception is that you need to engage a lawyer to write a will. To avoid the expense, people put this task off, often indefinitely. Another common misconception is that once a will is written, it cannot be altered. Personally, I’ve changed my will dozens of times. If it’s a simple add-on, a codecil (supplemental will) can be used; otherwise, it might be easier to just rewrite it and destroy the previous version.

Writing a simple will is actually pretty straightforward. You could read more about it here. There are a few requirement to make a will valid (I’m not familiar with how Sharia Law may or may not affect the following points, so these may not apply to Muslims):

  1. Identity. The writer must clearly identify himself/herself as the maker of the will, and identify the will as the current “last will and testament”, and revoke any previous versions.
  2. Age. In Singapore, you must be at least 21 years of age to make a will (in the US, the minimum age is 18) unless you are a soldier in active military service or a seaman at sea.
  3. Sound Mind. You must be of sound mind (have mental capacity) and not be under duress or undue influence.
  4. Witness. Your will must be witnessed by two persons who are present at the same time, and these persons cannot be beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries in your will.
  5. Signature & Date. The maker must sign and date the will.

There are dozens of will templates and online tools that can help you create one. If you are weary of writing one yourself, there are several law firms in Singapore that specialize in writing wills with simple wills costing around $100-$200.

Having a last will and testament will make you more prepared for the inevitable – death. And being more prepared doesn’t have to break your budget while your living.

How Does Halloween Fit In?

While growing up in the US, especially among the Hispanic community, the 31st of October was not just a day for dressing up in costume and asking for candy; it was a day of honouring the dead, known as “Dia de los Muertos” (or day of the dead). It is not only a day for mourning, but a day to celebrate death in a way that no other culture does – and that is to mock it and live alongside of it, and even laugh in the face of death. Whereas death makes a lot of other cultures uncomfortable, to the Hispanics, it is accepted as a inevitable and even celebrated event. They believe that the departed have merely crossed over to another realm, and can still come visit them during the 3 day period which includes the day we know as Halloween. Halloween is, therefore, a great time to be remembering our departed loved ones, and that one day we too will join them. It is also a good time to be planning for that day, specifically by writing a will.

In a future post, I’ll be covering some advantages of having a will and what happens when you don’t have one. But now, I will end this post wishing you all a very Happy Halloween.

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