The Minister for Manpower, Dr Tan See Leng, recently addressed Singapore Parliament on the issue of the Central Provident Fund (CPF) nomination scheme, which allows CPF members to nominate recipients of their CPF monies in the event of their demise.
Dr Tan noted that CPF nominations are currently treated in the same way as wills revoked upon marriage, which are not revoked in the event of a divorce.
Dr Tan’s statement was made in response to a question filed by Ms Sylvia Lim, Workers’ Party Member of Parliament for Aljunied GRC, who had asked if the Government would amend the Central Provident Fund Act 1953 to provide for the automatic revocation of a nomination when the beneficiary becomes an ex-spouse following a divorce.
Dr Tan confirmed that the CPF Board (CPFB) intends to remind members who have undergone a divorce to review their nominations. He also mentioned that the Ministry of Law is studying the rule in the Wills Act of 1838 that provides for the automatic revocation of wills in the event of marriage.
In her supplementary questions, Ms Lim asked whether the CPFB will keep track of divorce orders and send reminders to members who undergo divorce proceedings. She also urged the CPFB to reconsider the policy of not revoking CPF nominations upon divorce, arguing that CPF funds are already liable for distribution as matrimonial assets during divorce proceedings.
Dr Tan thanked Ms Lim for her questions and confirmed that the points raised by her are being reviewed, and potential ramifications are being considered. He added that updates on the review would be provided at a later date.
Ms Lim’s questions come in light of a recent judgement at the Singapore High Court where a judge had questioned the legislative purpose behind the formality requirements for CPF nominations.
Justice Lee Seiu Kin made the observation in a case where an 80-year-old man, who had been divorced for 36 years, made two unsuccessful attempts via the online CPF portal to nominate his only child as the beneficiary of the funds in his CPF account. The man, Mr Toh Kim Hiang, died just over a month after his second unsuccessful nomination attempt.
In written grounds for his decision, Justice Lee said that the case raised questions with respect to the legislative purpose behind the formality requirements for CPF nominations and how nominations not made in accordance with the required formalities are viewed by the court.
Even though the nomination by Mr Toh was not compliant with the CPF rules, Justice Lee declared that the nomination was valid and ordered the board to release the CPF monies to Mr Toh’s daughter, Ms Adeline Toh.