Ideally, when someone passes on, a will, written in accordance to the format and conditions required by the Wills Act of Singapore, is left with specifics on how the deceased person’s property, or what we refer to as estate, will be managed and by whom. However, it doesn’t go as easy as that. There has to be a legal recognition of someone’s appointment by the deceased to administer the latter’s estate.
If you intend to administer the estate of the deceased loved one, you may want to apply first for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration to be legally appointed as the executor or administrator of the estate.
PROBATE VS LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION
You might be wondering now, “Which way should I be appointed?”
Usually, a last will and testament by the deceased will have someone named as the executor (the person who will execute the terms of the will), trustees, and beneficiaries to their wishes. Whoever was explicitly referred to in the will as the desired executor of the deceased, he or she will have to apply for a grant of probate in the court. This will give a legal go-signal for the executor to perform his duties as requested by the deceased in his will.
If the deceased did not make a Will, the court has to appoint administrator/s to administer the estate. In most cases, the spouse or one of the next-of-kin of the deceased under rules of distribution governed by the Intestate Succession Act or, in other cases, Muslim Law, will be the administrator.
THE 3-STEP PROCESSES & REQUIREMENTS
Now that you know the legal basis of who can administer a deceased person’s estate and which route you should apply for to legally handle estate matters in the presence or absence of a will, here are the simplified steps and list of requirements to help you apply for either Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.
- STEP 1 – FILING THE APPLICATION
|GRANT OF PROBATE (Deceased with Will)||LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION (Deceased without Will)|
|Ex Parte Originating Summons in Form 48 in Appendix A of the Family Justice Courts Practice Directions (FJCPD)||Service Bureau Form for Application for Letters of Administration|
|Statement for Probate or Administration in Form 51 of FJCPD||Statement for Probate or Administration in Form 51 of FJCPD|
|Certified True Copy of the Death Certificate||Certified True Copy of the Death Certificate|
|Certified True Copy of the Will||OPTIONAL: Renunciation of Beneficiaries With Prior Right (Form 53) if anyone eligible to apply for Letters Of Administration would like to forego their right to do so.|
|Caveat and Probate Search to ensure no other claims to administer the estate in question exists||Caveat and Probate Search to ensure no other claims to administer the estate in question exists|
2. STEP 2 – FILE SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS
- In both cases, the Administration Oath is an important supporting document that details the Administrator’s or Executor’s undertaking to the court that he or she will be the one to distribute the estate and other effects of the deceased as per instruction in the latter’s last Will.
- The applicant is also required to submit a Supporting Affidavit (Form 225), usually within two to three weeks from filing of the Administration of Oath.
- A Schedule of Assets (Form 226) is also required to be submitted with Form 225 to detail the extent of the deceased assets or debts if any. If you have no idea as to what assets the deceased had, you will have to write to banks, the CPF board, and any financial institutions.
You can, however, only write to these institutions when your application for the Grant of Letters of Administration has been accepted. This is because these
establishments will require you to provide a certified true copy of the originating summons issued by the court before revealing information.
If you can’t get the information to fill out this form within the timeframe of the deadline, you should file Administration Oath and Supporting Affidavit Form first without the Schedule of Assets.
Once you’ve gotten information from the institutions concerned, you can file a completed Schedule of Assets together with other supplementary affidavits.
When this has been completed, you’ll now have to wait for the court to approve your Grant of Letters of Administration or Grant of Probate through an “Order in Terms”. The outcome of your application will be sent to you through a letter from the court requesting you to proceed with grant extraction.
3. STEP 3 – EXTRACTING THE GRANT
- Once the court accepts all the documents provided for your request, you’ve settled all the fees required, and other legal obligations have been fulfilled, the court may now issue your Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters Of Administration and your lawyer may soon be able to request for the extraction of the grant.
One last caveat and probate search must be completed to ensure no one else is claiming their right to administer the deceased person’s estate. The results of this search will have to be filed alongside the request to extract the grant.
After extracting the grant, you will now have authority to manage the deceased’s estate.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
If your application doesn’t meet any legal or personal hurdles, you might be able to extract your Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration within 2 to 6 months of applying for it in Singapore.
Sometimes though, delays can be experienced when the deceased has a lot of estates that have to be identified and located first. Other documents and pertinent information that will fast track your application may confuse you along the way. It’s always best to consider having a lawyer to assist you with legal matters such as this.
This process after all is part of the journey when a loved one has passed on. It’s a necessary duty to receive and take care of what has been left behind. Considering the confusion and the probable grief that is left after one’s passing, you’ll need great probate lawyers to assist you so you can move on to the next chapter of your lives smoothly as soon as possible.