The conversation that no one wants to have — what happens to property after your parents pass away?
In Singapore, HDB flat ownership will pass to living relatives based on the will. But if there’s no will to follow, then the respective laws from either the Family Justice Court or the Syariah Court will determine how the property ownership will be distributed.
Here’s a quick breakdown of how the flat ownership is passed down:
The Family Justice Court will handle the proceedings according to the Intestate Succession Act. Following the order of priority, ownership of the HDB flat will be distributed as follows:
|Married with children||50%||50%||x|
|Married with children; spouse no longer living||x||100%||x|
|Married but without children; parents no longer alive||100%||x||x|
|Married but without children; has living parents||50%||x||50%|
If the owner of the flat is married and has children, once they pass away half of their property goes to their spouse while the other half is evenly distributed to their children.
On the other hand, if the flat owner has children but his/her spouse has since passed on, the children will inherit the whole of the property.
If the flat owner is married but didn’t have any children, then the surviving spouse inherits the property.
And if the owner didn’t have any children but left a spouse and living parents when he passed away, then 50% of the property goes to the spouse and the other half goes to the parents.
Things are a little different if your parents were declared Muslims before they passed: the Syariah Court and the Islamic Inheritance Law (Faraid) come into play.
Based on these laws, immediate family members inherit larger portions of the property while other relatives inherit smaller portions. In addition, men receive double the portion compared to women. To calculate how the flat would be distributed among your family members:
You’ll need to submit an application to inherit your parents' HDB flat. This can be done without a lawyer.
For Non-Muslims, the form is available on the Family Justice Court’s website.
For Muslims, the forms are available on Syariah Court Singapore’s website.
Yes, but you’ll need to sell one of the two HDB flats because you can only own one HDB flat at a time.
Whichever flat you keep, you’ll have to sell the other one within 6 months of taking ownership of the inherited flat.
This depends on the date your parents purchased the HDB flat. If they purchased it before 30 August 2010, good news: you’re allowed to keep both properties.
If they purchased the flat on/after 30 August 2010, you’ll need to sell one of the properties.
When your parents applied for the flat, they were given 2 types of ownership options: joint tenancy and tenancy-in-common. The ownership type they chose affects how the property is distributed.
Joint tenancy means that all co-owners have equal stake in the property. So when one of the owners passes away, the property ownership automatically goes to the living co-owner.
Tenancy-in-Common means that each owner has a different stake in the HDB flat. If one of the owners passes away, their share will be distributed based on inheritance laws rather than being automatically given to the living owner.
Pooja is a Singaporean writer and property owner who has been following local real estate trends closely for the last 5 years. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, dragon boating, and cooking vegan-friendly meals.