Estate Administration

The Estate Administration practice assists named executors and next-of-kin to apply for Grant of Probate, Grant of Letters of Administration or Memorandum of Resealing of Grant from the Commonwealth or other select foreign jurisdiction.

If a deceased person had assets within Singapore at the time of his/her demise, we are able to assist with applications for Grant of Probate, Grant of Letters of Administration or Memorandum of Resealing of Grant from the Commonwealth or other select foreign jurisdiction.

Our services will include providing legal advice, preparation of the required documentation for the application process and arranging for the translation of foreign language documents. Post-grant, we assist with calling in the assets of the deceased person.

WHO WE ARE

Ms Leslie Ho Suk Tsing

Director

Leslie is an advocate and solicitor with more than 25 years of experience. She joined Ong Swee Keng & Co, the predecessor firm of Ong Swee Keng LLC., in 2014 from a corporate and commercial background and heads the firm’s Notary Public, Commissioning and Legalisation practice.

Chio Su-Mei

Senior Legal Associate

Called to the Singapore bar in 2011, Su-Mei is a litigation lawyer and advises on civil litigation and dispute resolution matters. She heads the firm’s Estate Administration practice.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

ON ESTATE ADMINISTRATION

1. What happens when the deceased passes away leaving a Will?

Where the deceased has left a Will, the Will would have appointed at least one executor to manage the distribution of the deceased’s assets to the beneficiaries.

The executor is required to apply for a Grant of Probate at the Family Justice Courts. The Grant will recognise the appointment of the executor to manage the distribution of the deceased’s assets.

2. What happens when the deceased passes away without leaving a Will?

Where the deceased has not left a Will, or where the Will cannot be found, a next-of-kin of the deceased will be required to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration at the Family Justice Courts.

A next-of-kin is defined by the Intestate Succession Act (Cap. 146), in descending order of priority, as:

  • The spouse;
  • The children of the deceased;
  • The parents;
  • Brothers and sisters;
  • Nephews and nieces;
  • Grandparents; and
  • Uncles and aunts.

The Grant will recognise the appointment of the next-of-kin as the administrator to manage the distribution of the deceased’s assets.

The Probate and Administration Act (Cap. 251) allows for the appointment of a maximum of four administrators.

Where a next-of-kin declines to be appointed as an administrator in favour of another with equal or lesser right, the declining next-of-kin must renounce his right by way of filing a Renunciation.

Bankrupts and infants cannot be appointed as administrators. At least 2 administrators must be appointed if one or more beneficiaries of the estate is below the age of 21.

3. Who are the beneficiaries of the deceased’s estate?

Where the deceased has left a Will, then the Will would have identified the beneficiaries of the estate. Where the deceased has not left a Will, then the next-of-kin stand to benefit from the estate in the order of priority as defined by the Intestate Succession Act (Cap. 146).

4. Is it necessary for an executor or next-of-kin to apply for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration every time someone dies?

No. In certain circumstances, including where the value of the deceased’s net estate is SGD50,000 or less, an executor or next-of-kin can apply to the Public Trustee’s Office to administer the estate. Under those circumstances, it will not be necessary for the next-of-kin to apply for Grant of Probate/Letters of Administration. For more information, please refer to the Public Trustee’s Office at the Ministry of Law website: https://www.mlaw.gov.sg/content/pto/en/deceased-cpf-estate-monies/information-for-next-of-kin-estate-monies.html.

5. What are the requirements for an application for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration?

Generally, the required information/documents include:

  • Deceased’s Death Certificate/Certificate of Extract from Register of Death,
  • Deceased’s Will,
  • Identity documents of executors or administrators, and beneficiaries
  • Information/documents showing the assets and liabilities of the deceased’s estate as at the date of death.

Where the deceased is a foreign domiciliary or foreign national, the documents required are likely to include a legal opinion confirming the succession rights of beneficiaries under the law of the domicile or nationality of the deceased.

6. What happens when a foreign national dies overseas, leaving assets in Singapore?

The deceased’s executor or next-of-kin may apply for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration in Singapore in respect of the deceased’s assets in Singapore.

If the deceased was a citizen of a Commonwealth or other select jurisdiction, and the deceased’s executor or administrator has already obtained a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration in the deceased’s country, then the executor or administrator may alternatively make an application for Memorandum of Resealing of the original Grant in Singapore.

7. When should the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration be made?

The application for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration should ideally be made within 6 months of the death of the deceased. If the application is made after 6 months from the deceased’s death, then the executor or next-of-kin must provide a credible reason for such delay.

8. What is the estimated time taken for the application process for a Grant?

The application process, barring any complications, would typically take 2 to 3 months. Complications such as missing information, or inadequate documentation, or untraceable persons can prolong the application process significantly.

9. What are the duties of an executor or administrator?

Once the application for a Grant is successful, the executor or administrator has a duty to collect the assets of the estate and administer the deceased’s estate in the following order:

  • Pay or (reimburse) funeral, testamentary and administration expenses;
  • Pay off debts and liabilities, including taxes, to creditors of the deceased; and lastly to

Distribute the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries.

10. What happens when an executor delays or refuses to apply for Grant of Probate?

The next-of-kin can make an application to the Family Justice Courts to compel the executor to state his intention to either accept or decline to apply for Grant of Probate.

Where it appears that the executor is declining to exercise his right, the next-of-kin may then apply to the Court to be appointed as an administrator.

11. What happens when the executor or administrator fails or refuses to collect and/or distribute the assets?

The beneficiaries can commence legal action to compel the executor or administrator to fulfil his duties properly. Alternatively, the beneficiaries can commence legal action to remove the executor or administrator and to replace him/her with another person considered more suitable.

12. Is estate duty payable when a deceased dies with assets in Singapore?

Estate duty was abolished for deaths on and after 15 February 2008.