According to Singapore’s Intestacy Laws, when someone has passed away and has not left behind a will, their estate can only be distributed by an appointed administrator.
That individual will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration in Singapore, which, when approved by the Court, entitles them to manage the deceased’s estate, liabilities, and other affairs.
In cases wherein the deceased has left behind a will, the appointed executor in their will must apply first for a Grant of Probate.
However, there are cases wherein a Letters of Administration applies to the situation above, especially if the appointed executor has failed to act accordingly for whatever reason.
Nevertheless, the administrator(s) can contact financial institutions and other agencies through Letters of Administration to request access to the deceased’s assets.
This guide briefly discusses the application process for a Grant of Letters of Administration in Singapore and other details regarding estate administration.
When Is A Grant Of Letters Of Administration Necessary?
The Family Justice Courts issue a Grant of Letters to authorised persons named as the deceased’s estate’s administrators.
Letters of Administration are typically issued in cases wherein the deceased has passed away without leaving behind a Last Will.
However, there are also several instances where there is a will, but the Court requires a Grant Of Letters instead of a Grant of Probate:
- The deceased has failed to appoint an executor(s) in the will;
- The appointed executor(s) in the will are legally incapable of acting as administrators or have relinquished their right to act as one;
- The executor(s) did not extract the Grant of Probate;
- The appointed executor(s) passed away before the testator (person who wrote the will);
- The appointed executor(s) passed away before extracting the Grant of Probate or before the deceased’s estate was distributed.
Who Can Be Appointed As The Administrator Of An Estate?
The Probate and Administration Act defines who can be nominated and appointed as estate administrators.
Under Section 18 of the act, the “Letters of Administration may be granted to the husband, widow, or next of kin, or either of them;.”
More specifically, the Intestate Succession Act outlines several classes of individuals who can apply as administrators of the deceased’s estate. Here is the list of individuals in descending order of priority:
- The deceased’s husband or wife;
- The deceased’s children;
- The deceased’s parents;
- The deceased’s sisters or brothers;
- The deceased’s nieces and nephews;
- The deceased’s grandparents;
- The deceased’s aunts and uncles.
It is possible to appoint up to four (4) administrators who will cooperate in executing the Grant of Letters of Administration.
If at least one of the estate beneficiaries is a minor or under 21 years old, the Court must appoint at least two (administrators).
Further, if the beneficiary is an infant or is physically and mentally incapacitated, the Court may order their legal guardian to apply for the Grant of Letters.
What Do You Need To Apply For A Grant Of Letters Of Administration?
Due to the sheer number of documents and steps involved in the application process, you’re encouraged to engage the services of a lawyer to assist you.
But it is possible to apply for the Grant of Letters by yourself. Whichever arrangement you choose, below is a list of documents you’ll need to secure (with or without a lawyer)
- Originating Summons
- Supporting Affidavit
- Administration Oath
- Schedule of Assets
- Deceased’s Death Certificate
- Request to Extract the Grant
- Foreign Grant (if applicable)
- Inheritance Certificate (if applicable)
- Next of Kin’s Death Certificate (if applicable)
- Divorce Certificate (if applicable)
Steps In Applying For A Grant Of Letters Of Administration In Singapore
Individuals who wish to apply for the Grant of Letters by themselves can refer to the Probate and Administration Toolkit prepared by the Family Justice Courts.
But you may also work with a lawyer to assist you in the application. Below is a step-by-step guide on the process:
Step 1: Gather All The Required Documents
- Probate Application Form – The first step in applying for a Grant of Letters is to fill out the Probate Application/Citation form. You will need to indicate your and the deceased’s particulars (name, date of birth, date of death, etc.)
- Schedule of Assets – A Schedule of Assets is a complete list of all the assets comprising the deceased’s estate. Assets may include properties, insurance policies, mortgages, monies from bank accounts and financial institutions, etc.
If you’re unsure about the scope of the deceased’s estate, it’s best to enquire from financial institutions about the deceased’s assets. You can solicit a lawyer for help in this matter.
Step 2: Search For Existing Caveat And Probate Applications On The Deceased Person’s Estate
Once you have prepared all the necessary documents, you’ll need to visit the CrimsonLogic Service Bureau.
Here, you will check for Court records on existing caveats and probate applications on the deceased’s estate or previous claims regarding the right to administer the said estate.
A caveat search is vital as it verifies whether or not your application for a Grant is Contested.
Contested applications will usually take much longer to process, thereby delaying the time it takes to distribute the assets to the rightful beneficiaries.
Step 3: File Your Application Form
If there are no existing applications, you may proceed with generating the full and summary reports of your caveat and probate search.
Attach them to your application, then submit them over the counter at the Service Bureau after paying all applicable fees.
The Court will receive your application alongside other supporting documents. If you’ve submitted them in full and there are no errors in the application, the Court will notify you via SMS for confirmation.
Note: If you’re applying for the Grant of Letters of Administration more than six (6) months after the deceased’s passing, you will need to explain to the Court the reason for the delay.
Expect the Court to process your application within 1 to 3 weeks. Once approved, you or your lawyer may return to the Service Bureau to collect them.
Step 4: Submit The Administration Oath And Supporting Affidavit
You must submit the Supporting Affidavit and Administration Oath within two weeks (14 days) since you filed your application.
The Supporting Affidavit is a legal document confirming your application’s details. Meanwhile, the Administration Oath is an oath you’ll need to swear before a Commissioner of Oaths, stating you will faithfully administer and account for the deceased’s estate.
Step 5: Prepare The Schedule Of Assets
You will need to file the Schedule of Assets with the Supporting Affidavit. If you don’t know the full extent of the deceased’s assets, you or your lawyer must contact banks, CPF (Central Provident Fund) board, and other financial institutions.
Note: You must contact these institutions only after the Court has approved your application for the Grant of Letters of administration.
The reason is that they require a certified true copy of your Court-approved originating application before giving you information on the deceased’s assets.
If you cannot hear from them in time for the deadline for filing the Supporting Affidavit and Administration Oath, you may file these two documents first without the Schedule of Assets.
Provide a supplementary affidavit which you must also swear before a commissioner of oaths.
Step 6: Extract The Grant
All there’s left to do is to extract the grant. Fill out the Request to Extract Grant Form at the Service Bureau.
But before extracting the grant, you’ll need to perform one final caveat and probate search.
Attach the complete and summary reports of your search with the Request to Extract Grant Form. You are now authorised to manage the deceased person’s estate.
Conclusion About Letters Of Administration In Singapore
Applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration is necessary before executing the assets of a deceased person who has not left behind a will.
If you need help with applying for a Grant of Letters, The Singapore Lawyer is ready to help. We’re a Singapore law firm offering our clients tailor-fit solutions that meet their needs.
Get your free 30-minute consultation now. We’ll help you navigate the intricacies of your case and provide professional legal advice on the following steps to take.
Frequently Asked Questions About Letters Of Administration In Singapore
What Happens If The Deceased Who Passed Away Without A Will Was Muslim?
The Administration of Muslim Law Act will apply if the deceased was a Muslim and had passed away in Singapore without a will, instead of the Intestate Succession Act.
What Happens If The Person Passes Away Overseas?
You must secure a death certificate (in English) issued by foreign authorities in the country where the person has passed away.
How Long Does It Take To Apply For A Grant Of Letters Of Administration?
It will take two to three months for a Grant of Letters of Administration to be processed. It may take longer, depending on the complexities of the case.
Can I Attach Bank Statements To The Schedule Of Assets?
No, you don’t need to attach bank statements to the deceased’s Schedule of Assets.