Specialist Divorce & Family Lawyer
Divorce in Singapore
  • Probate & Administration

Probate & Administration

If the deceased left behind a valid will, the will would specify a person to be appointed as the executor. The executor would need to apply for a Grant of Probate to carry out the instructions of the person who made the will.

If the deceased died intestate i.e. without a will (or where  the will cannot be found), someone (usually the next-of-kin) would have to apply to the Court for a Grant of Letters of Administration. This is so that they can be appointed by the Court as an administrator to administer the distribution of the deceased’s estate.

Grant of Probate

As mentioned above, an executor needs to apply for a Grant of Probate in order to execute a will. A Grant of Probate is a Court order authorising an executor to administer the deceased’s estate in accordance to the instructions in the will.

Duties of the Executor

The executor may be required to perform the following, depending on the contents of the will:

  • apply for probate;
  • extract the Grant of Probate;
  • determine the total assets and liabilities of the deceased;
  • resolve the outstanding income tax liability of the deceased
  • resolve any debts or liabilities of the deceased. In the case of an insolvent estate, the order of priority in the repayment of debts can be found in the Bankruptcy Act. In the case of a solvent estate, the order of repayment can be found in the Second Schedule of the Probate and Administration Act;
  • distribute the assets to the beneficiaries or their respective guardians, in accordance to the will. 

Contentious probate: contesting a will

A will can be contested by those who dispute its validity, and a Court may declare it wholly or partially invalid. It is therefore important to ensure that the will complies with the provisions of the Wills Act. If a will is declared invalid, the Court will treat the matter as if no will has been left behind, and the deceased’s property may be distributed according to the rules of the Intestate Succession Act.

Any person who does not wish a grant to be issued to a particular executor or an administrator may file a caveat in Court. The effect of the caveat is that the Registrar of the Court is required to inform the person lodging the caveat, the caveator, in the event that an attempt is made to extract the grant of letters of representation.

Grounds to contest a will include specific allegations like the will not being properly executed, or that the testator was not of sound mind at the time of execution of the will. If the will is contested, the Court will decide the matter in a probate proceeding.

Where there is no will: Letters of Administration

Where a person passes away without leaving behind a will, a family member can make a Court application for the Grant of Letters of Administration. These Letters of Administration serve as a Court order authorising a person to be appointed as the administrator to administer the estate and distribute the assets in accordance to Singapore’s laws.

The administration process is set out under the Probate and Administration Act and the Intestate Succession Act.

Who can be an administrator?

Where no will is left behind, the Court is empowered to appoint whoever it thinks ought to be granted the Letters of Administration. Such a grant can be made to:

  • the spouse;
  • the children of the deceased;
  • the parents;
  • siblings;
  • nephews and nieces;
  • grandparents; or
  • uncles and aunts.

At least two administrators must be appointed if one or more beneficiaries of the estate is below 21.

Bankrupts and people below 21 years of age cannot be appointed as administrators.

Whether you are faced with a will or intestate estate, our experienced, resourceful and sympathetic team at Yeo Law are at hand to help you secure the division of your loved one’s estate in the most effective way. Call us at 62203400 for a free initial consultation.


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