Resealing a foreign Grant of Probate in Singapore
We frequently act for international law firms and foreign executors where the deceased is not domiciled in Singapore but has assets (usually bank accounts or properties) in Singapore. This article explains how we assist them to obtain resealing of foreign probate in Singapore (where the foreign country is part of the Commonwealth) or obtaining a fresh Grant (where the foreign country is not part of the Commonwealth).
When is resealing of probate required?
If a person who is domiciled overseas passes away, his next of kin or executor would naturally have probate done in the courts of his home country to gain access to his assets there. But what if the deceased lives in one country but also has assets in Singapore? What should his executor and beneficiaries do to take control of the assets in Singapore so that they can administer the estate and distribute the Singapore assets to the lawful beneficiaries?
If the foreigner has assets in Singapore, the financial institutions in Singapore would require the executor to produce a Singapore court order that grants the power to the executor to manage the deceased person’s estate in Singapore. This is because Singapore does not recognise foreign Grants of Probate. The executor would thus have to apply for resealing of the original probate in Singapore so that the original Grant is formally recognised (i.e. re-sealed) by the Singapore probate registry.
There are two ways for the executor to get this Singapore court order. They are as follows:
a. If the executor has obtained probate in a foreign country that is part of the Commonwealth (or Hong Kong), the executor can apply to “reseal the foreign Grant of Probate in Singapore.” The effect of resealing is that the foreign grant of probate is legally recognised in Singapore. The Singapore courts give the executor the same powers in the original grant of probate with no alteration to the terms. The effect is as if the grant of probate has been issued in Singapore.
Resealing is a fast and efficient way for the executor to gain access to the Singapore assets via a Singapore court order. On average, it takes us about 2 months to obtain resealing of a Grant of Probate, and 3 months for resealing of a Letter of Administration.
b. If the executor has obtained probate in a foreign country that is not part of the Commonwealth (or Hong Kong), the executor will have to apply for a fresh Grant of Probate in Singapore. Resealing is not possible in this instance. On average, it takes us about 4 months to obtain a fresh Grant.
To apply for a resealing of a foreign Grant of Probate or resealing of Letters of Administration in Singapore
In general, if a person who is domiciled overseas has died, and:
- They are domiciled in any of the Commonwealth Countries or Hong Kong:
- They have assets in Singapore; and
- The executors have already obtained a Grant of Probate from the deceased person’s home country
then, the executor of the original Grant of Probate may apply for that Grant to be resealed in Singapore. Upon resealing the foreign Grant, the executor may deal with the deceased’s assets in Singapore. This means the executor can produce the Resealing Court Order and request the financial institutions to transfer the monies or assets to them for them to manage and to distribute to the lawful beneficiaries.
All applications for resealing of a foreign grant of probate in Singapore must be made to the High Court (Family Division). In determining whether to grant a resealing grant of probate, the Singapore court must be satisfied that the original will and grant of probate were made according to the laws of the original jurisdiction. If the Singapore courts find the original grant was validly made, they will issue a memorandum of resealing. The foreign Grant of Probate will then be in force in Singapore. The executor named in the will can then administer the deceased’s Singapore assets.
Similarly, if the executor had applied for a Grant of Letter of Administration (where there was no will) in the home country, the executor can apply for Resealing of the Grant of Letter of Administration in Singapore.
Resealing of a foreign grant of probate or letters of administration is filed in the Singapore High Court.
PKWA is a leading probate law firm in Singapore
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