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02 Mar 2023

SOURCE: John Lim,


John is excited about helping young adults make finance, less of a dull and sleep-inducing process, and more of a fun journey. He speaks and writes about happy and healthy workplaces at

When I used to volunteer with MINDS Youth Group, a volunteer group that serves those with intellectual disabilities, I remember one of my fondest memories came when I first returned from my studies abroad.


Wrapping his arms around me, Jack (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) said,


Wah, long time no see, where did you go! I missed you!


I laughed.


Later, as I went home, a bittersweet experience came over me. Sure, I had a great experience studying abroad in the U.K. But Jack, had barely changed.

The challenge of your child’s future


Whilst he looked like you and me, and could speak both English and Mandarin, he struggled with an intellectual disability. This meant that he could not manage his normal financial affairs. His mother often told us that when he ordered something from the food court and paid the money, he would not know how much change he was supposed to get… nor did he know how much change the hawker actually passed him.


This caused his mother deep worry. Questions such as,


“What’s going to happen after I’m gone, and can no longer take care of him?


Who’s going to manage his finances?


How can I make sure that he has the money to continue living the life he has



regularly popped up in the head of his parents.


In addition, another worry concerned the practical day-to-day caregiving needed. Sometimes, siblings might have existing families that might make it difficult for them to commit care to your child with special needs. Other times, your child might be an only child.


Lastly, the concern at the top of mind for many parents was where the child would live after they were gone.


- Would they be able to hold property?


- Would they be able to buy a studio apartment for themselves?


Clearly, there are many concerns that comes with loving your child with special needs, ensuring that their needs are well looked after, even after you’re gone.


In this article, we look at the ways you can help provide for your child. We will also look at some core principles that can help you in navigating what can be a complex process.


But first, you may wonder.

Why bother?


After all, it’s so troublesome. You’re busy. Queueing up at CPF Service Centres, finding lawyers, and setting up trusts isn’t exactly everyone’s idea of fun.


It can be confusing to even know where to start.


But you’re not just caring for what happens to your estate after you’re gone. You’re caring about helping your child to maintain their life, even after you’re gone.


When I was in the U.K., I worked as a student social worker in a learning disability service, providing social care to those with learning disabilities. One afternoon, I was due to visit one of my clients. She ran out excitedly, and immediately shouted,


John, John, look at my ring!


My boyfriend proposed to me today!


You might not imagine this. But even after you’re gone, life continues for your child with special needs. And they may continue to have the chance to hit life’s big milestones, such as marriage.


This client, because of the planning done by her family and her social workers, managed to live in a shared accommodation with other adults with learning disabilities. She was well taken of, and even managed to find a boyfriend.


Life for your child, can continue to be equally exuberant and exciting, even after you’re gone.


You can give your child the chance to continue living a great life. So how do you start?

Start early, and start now


Esther Wong, the General Manager of the Special Needs Trust Company (SNTC), recommends that parents start planning early.


You don’t have to wait until you’re old before you start planning for your child’s future. 


3 years ago, not many of us would have expected wearing masks, being mandated to stay at home during circuit breaker, or even not being able to travel.


COVID showed us the unpredictability of the world. With such unpredictability, planning as best as you can, for the ‘just-in-case’, rather than waiting for when something eventually happens, can be a far better option.

Start with the Special Needs Trust Company


All you need to do to start is call the SNTC and express your interest to set up a care plan for your child. 


The SNTC is a non-profit organisation, set up by the Ministry of Social and Family Development to provide affordable trust services to the public so that they can create care plans for their loved ones when they are no longer around.


You simply need $5000 to set up a trust with them. This is a far lesser sum than what is required at banks or private institutions. Besides, the $5000 that you initially set aside will earn interest. Managed by the Public Trustee’s Office, this earns an average of 2 to 2.5% per annum.


Setting up a trust gives you with the legal infrastructure to will your estate (such as your stocks, and insurance policies). But setting up a trust also gives you the social infrastructure to support you with this process.


At SNTC, they provide case managers that will walk you through the process, helping you to


  1. Understand what your child’s current, and future needs will be
  2. Assess what your current assets are
  3. Understand how to meet these needs


But beyond that, they also follow up with the child after you’re gone, ensuring that there’s at least one familiar face. This can be very helpful for children with special needs, who prefer regularity and familiarity.


With the SNTC Case Managers, they will meet up with the child after your passing, to ensure that the trust is administered, and that practical needs such as housing, caregiving, and food, continue to be upheld.

Complement it with the Special Needs Savings Scheme (SNSS)


This can be further complemented by SNSS, which is administered by the CPF Board. With SNSS, you can decide on an amount that will be disbursed monthly from your CPF accounts to your child's bank account upon your demise. (This sum could also go to the deputy’s bank account in the event of a Deputyship; or the Donee if there is a Lasting Power of Attorney set up.)


This can be used for your child’s daily expenses such as food, transport, and accommodation.

Should I set up a SNSS or the SNTC


You may be wondering what the difference between SNTC and SNSS is.


The SNSS is primarily for those who have assets in their CPF accounts, and they want to create an income stream for their child and they do not need any customised case management services. The SNTC Trust is for those who have other assets in places like insurance, and stocks, and they prefer a case manager that can support the care plan execution via a trust.  



Special Needs Savings Scheme (SNSS)

SNTC Trust

Assets covered

CPF only

Only cash, non-cash assets such as property will be covered under a will

Case management


More customised, with the support of a trained Case Manager

How will the money be disbursed?

Pre-determined monthly sums will be disbursed to your child.  The monies will be drawn from your CPF accounts, starting from the lowest interest bearing CPF account.

This can vary, depending on the Letter of Intent


No charge

This can start from $150 for the one-time setup fee, $40 for the one-time activation fee, and $40 annually.

Suitable for

Parents with special needs’ children, have monies in their CPF accounts, and do not require any case management services.

Those with substantial cash outside of CPF and they prefer a case manager offering customised support.


The table above shows how the options differ.


It’s not an either-or choice. You can set up both a trust with SNTC, and a SNSS nomination too.

Relationships last forever


Some people ask me why I worked with people with special needs, even though they aren’t the easiest to work with.


In 2018, I volunteered in a charity in Xi’An that worked with abandoned children. Many of them were found with cleft lips, and cognitive disabilities. Once, somewhat insensitively, I asked one teen,


Do you miss mummy?


No, I don’t.


I thought I heard wrongly. I asked again.


Do you miss mummy?


He replied slowly.


No, because I have friends and family here.


The aunties who cared for him, and the other boys he stayed with, had become his friends and family.


Later when I went to his room, all he had was a teddy bear on his bed, and a suitcase under his bed. In the eyes of the world, he had nothing. But in his eyes, he had everything. Because he had friends and family.


Give your child the gift that lasts beyond your lifetime. Setting up a SNTC Trust, and an SNSS nomination, can sustain the relationship of love, that always keeps giving, even when you leave.


To ensure your child continues to be provided for even after you're gone, contact SNTC and discuss your options such as setting up a Trust with SNTC at 6278 9598 or emailing them at

Information presented is accurate as of the date of publication.