We’ve come a long way from the GiveMeBackMyCPF days. Now that Covid-19 has thrown the stock market into turmoil, people are actually rushing to give CPF their money, with CPF top-ups reaching a new annual record of $4 billion in 2021.
Tax season is just around the corner, and you might be thinking of transferring some cash into your CPF accounts for tax relief. But what happens to your CPF savings if you kick the bucket?
Don’t worry, your money won’t go to the government.
But if you haven’t made a CPF nomination, it might not go to whom you want it to go to. That’s because CPF savings cannot be distributed through a will. Instead, you need to do something called a CPF nomination to indicate the person(s) you want your CPF savings to go to when you die.
How to make a CPF nomination
You can make a CPF nomination online within minutes.
Make sure you have the following on hand:
- Your SingPass
- Your nominee(s)’s full name as per NRIC or FIN, mailing address and email address
- Full name as per NRIC or FIN, mailing address, email address and/or Singapore-registered mobile phone number of two witnesses of your choice (they don’t need to be physically present, but you should inform them in advance). Your witnesses cannot be nominees.
If you didn’t make a CPF nomination…
Couldn’t be bothered to spend a few minutes making a CPF nomination? Well, if you suddenly die while reading this, your CPF savings will be distributed to family members based on the Intestate Succession Act (assuming you are not Muslim and Syariah law does not apply to you).
If you have a spouse and children, half goes to your spouse and the other half to your children.
No spouse but you have kids? Your kids get everything.
No spouse and no kids? Your parents get the money.
No spouse, no kids and parents have already passed on? Your siblings get the money.
No spouse, no kids, no parents, no siblings? Your grandparents get the money.
No spouse, no kids, no parents, no siblings, no grandparents? Your aunts and uncles get the money.
Hate the idea of a conniving aunt or profligate uncle inheriting your CPF savings? Making a CPF nomination will ensure they get nothing.
CPF ENS and SNSS
The CPF Nomination Scheme distributes your CPF savings to your nominees in cash.
But in certain circumstances, you might not want that to happen. You can instead opt to distribute your cash through the Enhanced Nomination Scheme (ENS) or Special Needs Savings Scheme (SNSS).
Unlike the regular CPF Nomination Scheme, nominations under both ENS and SNSS cannot be done online. You’ll have to contact the CPF Board directly to make arrangements for your nomination.
CPF Enhanced Nomination Scheme (ENS)
Under this scheme, your CPF savings will be distributed to your nominees’ CPF accounts rather than in cash.
Why do this? If your nominees have gambling issues or are just really, really spendy, locking the money in their CPF accounts can force them to save it for retirement. It sounds like a pretty authoritarian thing to do, but it’s your money so you have the right to do whatever the hell you want with it.
Special Needs Savings Scheme (SNSS)
If you have a special needs child who needs long term care, you can set aside money for them through the SNSS.
Your child will then receive monthly disbursements after your death.
What happens if you’re enrolled in CPF Life?
The CPF Nomination Scheme works seamlessly with CPF Life.
It covers any CPF savings across all your CPF accounts as well as your CPF Life premium balance.
It’s different if you’re Muslim…
The CPF Nomination Scheme works the same way for Muslims as for non-Muslims. Once you make a nomination, your CPF moneys will be distributed to your nominees in cash, regardless of religion.
The only difference is what happens if you don’t make a CPF nomination your money will be distributed according to the Administration of Muslim Law Act, rather than the Intestate Succession Act. That means your money will be distributed to your family members under Faraid. You can use the Syariah Court’s online inheritance calculator to get an idea of what distribution under Faraid will be like.
Sound complicated? You can avoid this confusion by making a CPF nomination!
Benefits of making a CPF nomination
Even if you’re perfectly fine with distribution according to intestacy laws or Faraid, you should still make a CPF Nomination as it speeds up the process of distributing your money.
Distributing CPF monies without a nomination takes up to six months as the CPF Board will need to hunt down your family members one by one. You will also get slapped with an administrative charge which will be deducted from your CPF money.
When should I nominate?
All CPF members aged 16 and above who are mentally sound can make a CPF nomination.
In practice, you should make a CPF nomination once you start working and accumulating CPF funds. You can always make a new nomination later on if one of your nominees pisses you off and you decide to disinherit them.
How to make a CPF nomination offline
Want to make things more inconvenient for yourself? You can book an appointment to have your nomination done in person at a CPF Service Centre.
The only advantage to doing this if you don’t know anybody who’s willing to be a witness or for some reason don’t want anybody to know the details of your nomination, since the CPF Board’s staff members can act as your witness.
This article was first published in Money Smart.