What is a Grant of Probate?
When a person passes away, and the deceased person has a valid will, the beneficiaries need the Executor (the person named in the Will) to apply to the court for a Grant of Probate. When the court issues probate, it confers authority to the Executor to deal with the deceased’s estate. The Executor can then direct banks and financial institutions to transfer the money pending distribution to the beneficiaries.
The executor must produce the original will when they engage a probate lawyer to apply for Probate.
If there is no valid will, you’ll need Letters of Administration
When a person passes away, and the deceased person did not leave behind a valid will, the beneficiaries need the personal representative (known as the “Administrator”) to apply to the court to obtain Letters of Administration. When the court issues Letters of Administration, the Administrator can collect or sell the deceased assets and distribute them to the rightful beneficiaries.
The administrator is usually the spouse or one of the next of kin of the deceased.
As there was no will, the administrator will have to distribute the assets in accordance with the Intestate Succession Act (Cap 146) (for non-Muslims) or by the Administration of Muslim Law Act (for Muslims).
Duties of the Executor
The Executor is responsible for administering the estate. Therefore, they are an essential person in the probate process. In addition, because the Executor has to collect the deceased assets, the assets flow to them before distributing them to the beneficiaries. Hence, if you are making a will, you should select the Executor with care.
The Executor has strict duties to distribute the estate according to the Deceased’s Will. However, there are a few things that the Executor must do.
The Executor must:
- Find out what assets the deceased has and their value.
- First, pay the debts of the deceased. The debts include IRAS taxes, credit card debts, housing and vehicle loans and personal loans.
- Distribute the balance of the assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the instructions in the will.
Stages of the Probate Process in Singapore
The process can usually be done within 1-2 months in usual circumstances. However, there are 3 main stages involved, and given the complexity involved, it is highly advisable to employ a lawyer to handle the process for you.
- Filing the application
- Providing the supporting Affidavit and OIT of Summons, Schedule, Sureties
- Extracting the Grant
Your lawyer will file:
- Originating Summons (cause book searches), Statement, Administration Oath
- CTC of Death Certificate or Order of Court for the presumption of death of Deceased
- CTC of will & codicil (if any), including translation (if any) certified by a lawyer)
- Foreign Grant (for resealing of foreign grant);
- Consent of Co-administrator (if any);
- Inheritance Certificate (for Muslims);
- Others, e.g. Court Orders, Affidavit of Foreign Law
- Supporting Affidavit (to be filed within 14 days from the filing of OS)
- Supplementary Affidavit (if Schedule is not filed in Supporting Affidavit)
- Others, eg. Summons for Dispensation of Sureties, Affidavits, Orders of Court etc. (if there are vulnerable beneficiaries or Family Division of the High Court cases)
- Request to Extract Grant
- Administration Bond
- Request to Extract Memorandum of Resealing
*The executor is under a duty to distribute the assets in accordance with the Will.
When should I apply for Grant of Probate?
You should apply for a Grant of Probate as soon as possible. The deceased’s properties and assets should be distributed to the beneficiaries without unreasonable delay.