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High Court revokes the right of Singaporean to receive CPF benefits from dead husband after finding out he remarried

However, the wife in the subsequent marriage was also precluded from receiving the money as she had renounced her Muslim faith

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The High Court of Singapore ordered that a Singapore woman who got over S$500,000 from the Central Provident Fund (CPF) belonging to her late former husband return the money after it ruled that the husband’s second marriage had cancelled out her rights as his nominee.

Mr Samsudin Mohamed has nominated her as his beneficiary in 1985, but the couple, who had no children, were divorced in June 1989.

He married Ms Leonisa Acha Vallecera, a Filipina, in Toronto 13 years later and they had a son.

In December 2015, Mr Samsudin and his sister in Singapore, Madam Hamidah Hanif, were given the task of administering his estate.

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Two weeks after his death, Madam Mamuah was notified by the CPF of her nomination. In January 2016, she withdrew the money from the CPF. By March 2016, there was just S$117 left.

In court documents filed this August, Madam Mamuah said the CPF was not informed of her ex-husband’s second marriage in Toronto until after the release of the money to her.

The Filipina wife

The court held that his second marriage was valid in Canada, and correspondingly revoked Madam Mamuah’s CPF nominee status.

However, it turned our that Ms Leonisa, who had married under Islamic law, subsequently renounced her Muslim faith.

The High Court then ruled that the second wife who now lives in Canada – is also ineligible to receive the money as she renounced her faith and no longer practises it.

True beneficiaries

Madam Hamidah, represented by lawyer Soraya H. Ibrahim, argued that her late brother’s subsequent marriage in Toronto served to revoke the nomination, based on the Central Provident Fund Act.

She said the true beneficiaries of the estate under the Islamic Law of Intestacy included the dead man’s mother and five siblings.

Implications

The court requested an opinion on the impact of this from the legal (fatwa) committee of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, which held that the Filipina’s renunciation of her faith meant her marriage to Mr Samsudin was dissolved.

The committee explained this meant Ms Leonisa could not inherit her late husband’s estate due to the difference in faith. It also meant her son was born out of wedlock under Islamic law with no inheritance rights.

On the other hand, Justice Ang ruled that Madam Mamuah’s nomination was void and ordered her to return the full CPF sum to the estate administrator. She was also ordered to pay S$6,000 in legal costs to Madam Hamidah. -/TISG

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