Singapore—Due to people passing away without naming their benefactor over the last six years, the Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office (PTO) is in possession of S$211 million, mostly made up of Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies.
The Straits Times (ST) reports that in 2018, S$63.2 million from the CPF monies that belong to 3,540 people who had not named their benefactors went to the PTO.
The ST was told by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) that the total amount of unclaimed funds from the Government in the past six years reached S$240 million in unclaimed funds.
The majority of this amount had belonged to people who had died without saying who was to receive their CPF funds. The other part, S$29 million, now in the possession of different agencies, is made up of tax refunds, levy bonds, and immigration deposits, according to ST.
They are considered as unclaimed since the rightful owners of the funds can no longer be reached by the agencies, despite numerous endeavours to do so. But a spokesman from the MOP said that no matter how long the funds have been in possession of the agencies, should a valid claim come forward, it will be repaid.
The total amount of unclaimed funds in PTO’s possession was only S$1.3 million in the year 2000 but had increased to S$10.6 million 10 years later. However, a representative from MinLaw said that this is also due to the PTO having reclassified the different kinds of funds it receives as unclaimed.
When a CPF member dies, his or her nominees receive their CPF savings in cash. Should there be no CPF nomination at the time of death, the PTO then receives the funds, which it then distributes to the members of the family of the deceased under the Intestate Succession Act, or the Inheritance Certificate (for Muslims).
Legal experts whom the ST talked to on the matter say that the amount of unclaimed CPF monies may increase due to Singapore’s ageing society and decreasing family sizes.
The report quotes Norhakim Shah, a senior associate at I.R.B. Law, as saying,”I do foresee this sum growing, particularly given the rise in the number of elderly folk living alone. More Singaporeans may choose to remain unmarried and so more people may not see the need to make a nomination or simply do not have the time to do it.”
In 2016, there were 41,000 elderly people in Singapore who lived alone. By 2030, this number is expected to more than double to 92,000.
An estate law expert, Yvonne Schelkis-Sweeney from Gloria James-Civetta & Co, surmised that the amount of CPF monies that go unclaimed is because people are unaware of how CPF benefactor nominations are done.
“Many people assume that CPF monies are distributed under a will but it is not. If my clients have not made their nomination, I advise them about the procedure and assist them to do so,” she said.
According to the website of the CPF, nomination forms may be done online or submitted by mail.
Ms Norhakim added that people should make their nominations early, as beneficiaries must pay the PTO a fee otherwise, as well as wait for the administration of the monies.
The PTO charges the following for administering unnominated CPF monies—2.4 percent for the first S$1,000, 1.5 percent for the next S$9,000 and 0.75 percent for the next S$240,000./ TISG