It is a common misconception in Singapore that an appointed executor of a will can immediately begin managing the deceased’s estate and their other affairs.
Although this is true to some extent, Singaporeans may not realise that the executor named in the last will must first apply for a Grant of Probate from the Courts.
This is a necessary step before the deceased’s assets can be distributed in accordance with their last wishes.
What Is A Grant Of Probate?
A Grant of Probate is a Court document that legally allows the executor(s) and trustee(s) named in the will to distribute the estate to the named beneficiaries according to the deceased’s wishes.
With a Grant of Probate, an executor can instruct banks and other financial institutions to conduct monetary transfers to the named beneficiaries.
A Grant of Probate is required, especially where the deceased’s estate exceeds a value of $50,000 without any outstanding debts and liabilities.
For an estate with an estimated value not exceeding $50,000 and without debts and liabilities, applying for a Grant of Probate is not necessary.
Instead, you may apply to the Public Trustee to administer the estate on the deceased’s behalf.
What If The Deceased Did Not Leave Behind A Will?
If the deceased has failed to draft a legitimate will before their passing, the beneficiaries will need help from the “administrator” to obtain the Letters of Administration from the Court.
According to Singapore’s Intestate Succession Act, the Grant of Letters of Administration empowers the administrator to manage, sell, collect, or distribute the deceased’s estate to the beneficiaries.
The administrator will usually be the deceased’s surviving spouse or next of kin. You may check out this guide on Letters of Administration for more information.
Do I Need A Lawyer To Apply For A Grant Of Probate?
Most probate applications are non-contentious, meaning there are no competing challenges to the named executors in the deceased’s will.
However, several documents are required in the application, which can complicate matters.
Further, there may be cases wherein the application will become contentious. The best course of action would be to seek legal advice from a professional lawyer in Singapore to smoothen out the entire probate process.
How To Apply For A Grant Of Probate In Singapore?
The lawyer assisting you in the application process will guide you through the steps, which include the following:
Pre-Application: Preparing The Documents For A Grant Of Probate
Ex Parte Originating Summons
This is the first document required in a Grant of Probate. Ex parte means that no other parties are involved in the application proper, only the executor(s) named in the will.
You must file the Originating Summons using Form 48 before the Family Justice Courts. This document is under “Appendix A: Forms” from the Family Justice Courts Practice Directions.
This form requires several details from you, including:
- The deceased’s details
- The applicant’s (your) personal details
- The type of order you are requesting (Probate be granted to the applicant).
You will also need to attach a Certificate of Results of Caveat and Probate Application Searches, found in Form 52. This document validates that no prior probate applications or caveats were made on the estate.
Make sure to attach a digital copy of a caveat search report summary to the Originating Summons.
Statement For Probate Or Administration
The Statement for Probate or Administration, or Form 51, is the next document you’ll need before applying for a Grant of Probate in Singapore.
Here, you will be asked to provide the particulars of the deceased, their estate, and the applicant’s details (you):
- Information regarding the deceased’s death, including where they lived before their passing;
- Estimated estate value, including express confirmation whether or not the value exceeded $3 million;
- Express confirmation that the will included in the supporting documents is the certified true copy (as the original will has to be verified first by the Family Justice Courts);
- Applicant’s details and confirmation that they are the named executor in the will;
- Express confirmation on whether the application for the Grant of Probate was made within six (6) months since the deceased has passed away (and reasons explaining why the application was filed more than six (6) months before their passing, if necessary).
As a general rule of thumb, your lawyer will require from you the documents mentioned above before they proceed with the electronic filing on your behalf.
Certified True Copy Of The Will
You must see that the certified true copy of the will, which will be submitted before the Family Courts, is written in English.
If not, you may engage with a lawyer in Singapore to get assistance from a Court translator to translate the document.
The Court translator will also need to confirm the accuracy of the translated will in a supporting affidavit (a signed statement made on oath).
The Court will have to verify the will’s authenticity before they get back to you or your lawyer.
Certified True Copy Of Death Certificate
The Court will also need the certified true copy of the death certificate. The purpose is to verify that the estate owner is legally certified as deceased.
In cases wherein the applicant cannot obtain a death certificate and does not remember the details of the death, they have two options:
- Search for a death record from the ICA (Immigration and Checkpoints Authority) Registry of Births and Deaths; or
- Apply for a Death Extract which acts as a replacement for lost or damaged death certificates (Note: this is only applicable if the deceased passed away in Singapore)
You can conduct these searches and find all the documents you need from the ICA website.
As mentioned earlier, you must conduct a caveat and probate search. This process determines whether or not there are existing claims that someone else has made on the deceased’s estate.
Applications with no prior caveat or probate applications can proceed fairly quickly and smoothly.
However, finding existing probate applications on the deceased’s estate can complicate matters. It’s best to consult with a lawyer before proceeding.
Step 1: File The Main Application
Generally, your lawyer will be responsible for electronically filing the documents mentioned above. They will use the eLitigation portal.
Suppose you did not engage with a lawyer to file the documents on your behalf. In that case, you will need to personally submit the documents over the counter at any CrimsonLogic Service Bureau office.
You will receive a provisional probate case number and a checklist of items for easier application tracking. After your lawyer has submitted the original will to the Probate Counter at the Family Justice Courts, you will need to secure the following documents.
Step 2: Submit The Supporting Documents
- Administration Oath – The applicant (executor or trustee) must swear before the Court that they will distribute the deceased’s estate according to their instructions in the will. Your lawyer will draft the Administration Oath, which you’ll need to sign before a Commissioner of Oaths.
- Schedule of Assets – The Schedule of Assets lists all the deceased’s properties in Singapore and any liabilities or outstanding debts. Some examples of assets include personal property, bank account monies, insurance policies, etc.
- Supporting Affidavit – The applicant should file the Supporting Affidavit within 2-3 weeks of filing the Administration Oath. The Supporting Affidavit must contain the following:
- Schedule of Assets
- Statement (which has been accepted by the Court)
- A certified true copy of the death certificate
- A certified true copy of the deceased person’s Last Will
Step 3: Attend The Court Hearing
Once the Court has accepted the application and supporting documents, your lawyer will need to attend the scheduled court hearing.
If the Court has not accepted the documents before the scheduled hearing date, they will “vacate” or render the hearing date void.
Step 4: Submit The Schedule Of Assets And Supplementary Affidavit
If you cannot verify the deceased’s estate at the start of the application process, your lawyer may help by communicating with financial institutions on your behalf.
Additionally, the Supporting Affidavit must be filed on or before the deadline provided by the Court. Your lawyer will need you to sign this document (without presenting the Schedule of Assets) so that the two can be filed within the deadline.
A Supporting Affidavit without a Schedule of Assets will allow the Court to grant an “Order-in-Terms”.
After which, your lawyer can start contacting banks, the HDB (Housing and Development Board), and other relevant financial institutions regarding the deceased’s assets.
After your lawyer has received information on the deceased’s assets, they will ask you to affix your signature on a Supplementary Affidavit. This document shows the deceased’s complete Schedule of Assets.
Step 5: Extract The Grant Of Probate
Your lawyer can start requesting the Court for a grant extraction after the latter has accepted the main application, Schedule of Assets, and other supporting documents.
But before extracting the grant, you will need to perform a final caveat and probate search to ensure there are no competing applications against the deceased’s estate.
Once everything is in order and you have paid the necessary fees, the Court will send an electronic copy of the Grant of Probate and Schedule of Assets via the eLitigation portal.
Conclusion About A Grant Of Probate In Singapore
A Grant of Probate is necessary before the appointed executor(s) can manage the deceased’s estate according to their Last Will.
Though the process can be done independently, securing the documents and filling out all the necessary forms can be overwhelming.
Fortunately, legal help is available. The Singapore Lawyer is here to assist you with any legal concerns you may face.
Get in touch with us now and receive a free initial 30-minute consultation where we will hear your case and advise you on the next steps.
Frequently Asked Questions About A Grant Of Probate In Singapore
How Much Is A Grant Of Probate In Singapore?
A probate application without any contentious applications can cost anywhere between $2,000 to $6,000. You may contact The Singapore Lawyer through the following for more information regarding our legal fees:
- +65 6974 0068
- +65 6974 0069
- [email protected]
- +65 8886 0278 (24-hr Hotline)
When Should I Apply For A Grant Of Probate?
Ideally, you must apply for a Grant of Probate within six (6) months from the deceased’s date of death. It’s recommended to file as soon as possible so the estate can be distributed amongst the named beneficiaries.
What Happens If The Deceased Failed To Name An Executor In Their Will?
If the deceased has failed to appoint an executor in their Last Will, the Court will appoint another individual to manage the deceased’s affairs. The grant will instead be a Letters of Administration rather than probate.
How Long Does A Grant Of Probate Take In Singapore?
Applying for a Grant of Probate will usually take two to three months, depending on the intricacies of the case.