“Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.” ― Mitch Albom
Whenever Mothers’ Day draws near, it also signifies that my birthday is just round the corner. Yes, I was born on Mothers’ Day so I always tell my friends how ironic it is that my route to Motherhood took so many twists and turns.
This year, as my birthday swings around again in May, I decided to sit the husband down to discuss some ‘important’ plans. The fact that we are both not getting any younger but our children are still so young, prompted us to have this talk. Naturally, the decisions we had to make center around making a Will and other care-giving arrangements for the kids should we be no longer around anymore.
To my surprise, I recently discovered that our last Will have no bearing on how our CPF (Central Provident Fund) is to be distributed upon our eventual death.
Yes, you heard it right. It doesn’t.
Of death and living:
Death is a certainty that none of us like to talk about.
In our home, my husband’s experience with death from losing his father when he was just 13 years old has shaped our psyche as parents. My Father-in-law passed away without a proper Will, leaving my Mum-in-law with 3 young children to care for. To make matters worse, she was embroiled in a long legal battle trying to regain possession of her late husband’s inheritance and assets for the welfare of their kids. The whole legal process took more than 10 years and the painful scars of seeing your own relatives turn on each other for the sake of money, still remain.
Personally, I’ve encountered deaths in many forms – child-losses, stillbirths and as recent as last February, my beloved Grandmother’s passing. Death stings the most when it comes unexpectedly and swiftly. In Singapore, many couples are marrying and having children later. This means we are subjected to greater health risks whilst our kids are still very young. How can we ensure the quality of life for our children can continue when we ‘go’?
As a tribute this Mother’s Day, I’ll like to share a few lessons I’ve learnt from my very resilient and capable mom-in-law who single-handedly raised 3 kids on her own after my father-in-law’s untimely passing:
1. Seize the day: Life is short. Therefore we should seize the opportunities to experience life to its fullest instead of wallowing in self-pity or regrets.
2. Be self-sufficient: When bad times fall (and they will), it’s crucial that we are self-sufficient and independent and not be a burden to others, especially our friends and loved ones. This is when good financial planning comes in.
3. Success and setbacks: Successes and setbacks are both fleeting. We must remember those who helped us attain success and be there for others when they are undergoing setbacks.
4. ‘Ohana’: The Hawaiian word for ‘Family’ – families look out for each another, they are always united and do not bear grudges.
5. Health is everything: Illness can severely incapacitate one’s life. No matter how much potential you have and how bright your plans for the future, once you’re ill, everything is adversely affected. So we mustn’t take our health for granted.
I’ve lots to learn from my Mother-in-law…
As I take stock of my own life as a Mom, I realised I have yet to properly planned for contingencies for my children. This brings me back to my startling discovery that my last Will and Testament will not have any bearing on my CPF nomination, upon my death, as outlined on the CPF website:
Did you know…your CPF Savings are not covered under a Will? Your CPF savings do not form part of your estate and are distributed according to your CPF nomination or via the Public Trustee to your family members under Intestacy or Inheritance laws when you pass away. This protects your CPF savings from any creditor claims and allows your loved ones to receive the CPF monies swiftly and conveniently.”
This made me wonder how much I actually know about CPF. A quick browse of CPF’s user-friendly Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/CPFBoard) showed many easy-to-read info-graphics explaining these key policies and FAQs. Perfect for busy Moms like me. From the FB page, I discovered more vital information about CPF nominations, which I think every parents should be privy to:
A) There are 3 types of Nomination schemes: Cash Nomination, Enhanced Nomination Scheme and Special Needs Saving Scheme (SNSS) for parents with special needs children.
B) There are certain areas not covered under CPF Nominations. This includes your investment under the CPF Investment Scheme (CPFIS). Here’s a graphic representation:
David and I took the chance to post some queries we have about CPF nominations on CPF’s FB Page. We asked:
1) What happens if both parents pass away at the same time and they have nominated each other? Especially since it is common for parents to go on business trips or couple trips together, leaving their children in the care of relatives. Not that we do but travelling in the same car on the road has the same inherent risks.
2) What happens if we nominate your children but they are still minors when we pass away?
We were impressed that CPF responded to our queries online within a day (see screenshot appended below).
As a Mom, I have been ‘too busy’ and delayed the planning of these important matters, including looking into my CPF nominations. I had assumed that my nominations were all in order because I had done it when we first wedded. In Singapore, a substantial amount of our salary is apportioned to the CPF as a means to save for our healthcare and retirement. Upon our deaths, the amount we have inside our CPF can be inherited by our children as a token of our love and legacy to them. A responsible step we parents can take is to stop procrastinating and to take advantage of the precious years we are still around to ensure that what we have saved up for our children, gets to them. We can start by reviewing our CPF nominations and ensuring they are in order.
This Mother’s Day, what are some precious lessons your mums have taught you which shaped who you are today?What are some lessons you would like to pass on to your own children? Use the hashtag #MyMumSays to share these with us or on your personal FB pages. We’ll love to hear from you. Have a blessed Mothers’ Day!
This community message post is brought to you in collaboration with CPF Board.