Thursday, December 4, 2014

Widow loses fight over husband's CPF bequest to another woman

Dec 04, 2014

By Aw Cheng Wei

He refused to get a job after his timber business failed in the 1980s, so Mr Saw's wife and three children supported him for 30 years.

But after he killed himself in June last year, the 63-year-old left all $37,000 in his Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings to a woman from China he met in a bar, something his family found out only while clearing out his belongings. His widow, 61, tried to appeal in court, which cost her $30,000 in legal fees. Not only did she lose the suit, but she also has to pay $7,000 in court fees.

[$37k in CPF, $30k in legal fees. $7k in court fees. Coincidence? Check if 3737 is winning 4D number this weekend!]

His son, 43, who is in the finance industry, started working when he turned 18 to provide for his family. "We were so angry and helpless," he said. "Growing up, my motherpaid for us out of her $1,000 salary as a childcare assistant." The family asked that their full names not be published.

They had written to the CPF Board which said that it had to follow the man's wishes. They then tried to file an injunction against the statutory board in June last year to stop it from disbursing the funds to a Ms Liu, who works as a customer service staff member at Marina Bay Sands, according to Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao. She could not be reached for comment.

But the court ruled in Ms Liu's favour last month, saying that she and Mr Saw had a good relationship - regardless of whether the woman was his "goddaughter" or mistress. There was also not enough evidence to pass judgment on Mr Saw's mental state.

The family says it is considering appealing to the High Court, and has until Monday to do so.

The younger Mr Saw claims the nominee form had a cancellation on it which makes it invalid. In addition, he said, his father was suffering from depression and had tried to overdose on pills three times since March last year.

Besides the CPF money, the late Mr Saw also apparently left behind a will, stating that his executive maisonette in Bukit Panjang, of which he is the sole owner, is to be sold three months after his death, according to a copy of the will. The family cannot find the original document.

The lion's share of the proceeds - $150,000 - is to go to Ms Liu, while an additional $50,000 will be given to Ms Ye, another Chinese national. The dead man's brother, one Ms Ng, an old folks' home and a temple will get between $30,000 and $50,000. What is left, if any, will go to his son, two daughters and wife.

Meanwhile, his widow, who is now living with his youngest sister, has applied for a studio apartment with the Housing Board. She does not want to continue living in the now-empty flat because she was traumatised after discovering Mr Saw's body there.

Her new home will be ready next year and will cost $150,000. Her son said: "We are trying to raise money... to pay for the flat."

[The comments online on this story was almost as interesting as this story. Broadly, the comments fall under these categories:
1a) The Law should be changed so men cannot will away their savings/assets to non-family members
1b) Foreigners should not be allowed to benefit from wills from locals.
1c) The government should do more (to protect "the innocent")
2) It's his money, he can do with it what he wants.
3) This is between the dead man and his family. We don't know the family dynamics. Let's not judge.
4a) The man gives his CPF and wills 1/3 of the proceeds from the sale of his flat to this "goddaughter", another $50k to another PRC woman, and another $100k or so to a temple and old folks home. He must really hate his family.
4b) At this point all we have is the wife's words against a dead man who cannot defend himself. She much have done something.
Of course there were also comments that were combinations of two or more of the above.

Comments in 1 are short-sighted, perhaps overly-pragmatic. They are solving the immediate problem, without realising that they are creating other problems in the long run.

Comments in 4 are "blame-storming". These people obviously believe in the Just World Hypothesis

Comment #2 are taking a principled stand. The issue is the right of the person to do with his legacy, what he wants with it. The problem with freedom is that freedom doesn't mean that people will do the right thing. It just means that people are given the opportunity to do the right thing. They don't always do the right thing. Which makes those people who do do the right thing, good people.

Comment #3 takes a non-judgmental, agnostic position. We really do not know the dynamics of the family. Anything we assume or guess or surmise is simply speculation. Or a projection of our own situation and circumstances.]

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