I finally officially took over my parent’s five-room HDB flat.
That was done yesterday in an unexpected manner (story below).
My mom and dad bought this flat in 1997 under the Joint Tenancy agreement. I think most would be under this agreement.
When my mom passed away six years ago, under the Joint Tenancy agreement, there was a right of survivorship. You can read more under HDB’s Manner of Holding. The flat would automatically be passed on to the remaining co-owners, which is my dad.
When my dad got sick last year in July, one of the things we brothers thought about was the flat. When my mom passed, we helped Dad did up a simple will where 50% of his assets will go to my elder brother and 50% will go to me.
If my dad doesn’t survive, would we have greater complications under that existing will structure? My brother has an existing HDB flat, which means either we have to sell off the HDB flat, or I have to buy over his share. After checking some stuff with HDB and thinking deeper about this, I concluded that I will have to buy over my brother’s share if it is under that existing Will structure.
Financially, it may sound problematic having to cough out almost $300,000 in the current market conditions, but in the end, it is a liquidity issue. I just need to have $300,000. It is about whether I have the cash to pay my brother and after the procedure for him to gift me back $300,000.
But fxxk, all these things can be solved with just a change in the intention of the will.
So we discussed with dad and made the change.
Here is my experience.
Making the First Appointment to Get the Process Started
I started the process of taking over the ownership of the flat after I have successfully obtained the Grant of Probate with the will. You can read about my Grant of Probate process here: My Grant of Probate Application Experience with Yuen Law.
That was about 28th April 2023.
I made an appointment at the local HDB Office for Transfer of Deceased’s Property.
A day before the appointment, a person called me up to ask:
- Whether I got a will and probate.
- Whether I am the sole executioner.
After providing the info and dropping the call, I received the following SMS:
I then went down on the actual day of the appointment to start the process.
The admin person spent a fair bit of time reading my dad’s will to check up on the number of beneficiaries and executors.
The admin person asks whether I want to hold on to the flat or that I want to sell the flat off. There are a fair number of people who wish to do that.
I then have to fill up the following forms:
- Purpose: Transmission and take over ownership.
- Letter of confirmation for transmission.
- Warrant to act – transmission.
Here are what a couple of those documents look like:
I was informed that if the process is successful, it will take up to three months.
- Admin fee: $50
I was informed that when this goes through I will need to pay a conveyance and fee of about $1,000.
Receiving the Good News from HDB
I opened up my snail mailbox recently and found this letter:
It looks like I open up my mailbox too late (hey, I don’t open it very frequently!)
I wanted to change the appointment to another date via the Internet but as the flat is under my dad’s name, and his SingPass is dead after he passed away, I guess I will make a trip down yesterday in person to make an appointment.
The people at the HDB branch were very nice to help me process it then and there.
I signed a couple of forms, basically taking over the ownership of the lease. The admin person informed me that HDB’s lawyer will assist in most of the proceedings so I do not need my own lawyer.
The proceedings would not come up to a four-digit sum.
I had to pay:
- Any outstanding town council fee: $78
- The fees laid out in the letter in cash: $254.25
- The fees laid out in the letter in CPF: $332.05
The title deed of the HDB flat will be kept by CPF. If I keep it myself and I lose it, I will have to pay a few thousand for it.
I understand if you finance your mortgage through a bank before you fully own it, you would have to obtain the deed yourself.
Timeline of Events
In actual fact, the second appointment was 27 Jul, which is almost exactly three months from the first appointment like what the admin person say.
The total payment in all was about $714 if you add up the cost in the timeline.
This is a smaller amount than what I anticipated.
With that, my brother and I have what amount to a 1,300 sqft of ample storage space. While the place is under my name, in my mind, half of it belongs to him.
If you go on social media, you would see things like this:
I had like four months to adjust to living very differently from the past forty-plus years. I more or less adjusted to living alone, but it also raised some concerns that need to be risk managed.
An HDB flat can be both a property and a home. To some, it is a property, but to others is something that is filled with good or bad memories.
I will probably flush some plans and other perspectives out in future posts.
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