A Grant of Probate is a legal document that explains who should be allowed to handle an estate. If the decedent (a legal term for a deceased person found in estate planning documents) left a valid will when they passed away, the beneficiaries will need the executor (person named in the Will) to file for a Grant of Probate from the Court.
The Court grants the executor legal authority to manage the estate of a deceased person once probate is granted. The executor can then instruct the banks and financial institutions to transfer the funds in preparation for distribution to the beneficiaries.
1. How To Process A Grant Of Probate In Singapore
Typically, the grant of probate process can be completed within one to two months. However, there are three main stages, and due to the complexity of the process, it is highly recommended that you hire a lawyer to handle it on your behalf.
- Filing the application
- Providing the supporting affidavit and originating summons, schedule, and sureties
- Grant extraction
Stage 1 – Filing The Application
For the application to be submitted to the Court, your lawyer will need to prepare the following materials:
- Originating Summons – Statement, Administration Oath CTC of Death Certificate, or Court Order for the death presumption of Deceased Renunciation
- CTC of Will and codicil (if any), including certified translation (if any)
- Foreign Grant (for resealing a foreign grant); Co-Permission administrator’s (if applicable);
- Certificate of Inheritance (for Muslims);
- Others, such as Court Orders and Foreign Law Affidavits
Stage 2 – Providing The Supporting Affidavit
After applying for the Grant of Probate, along with the required documents, you will receive a case number and a list of supporting documents to prepare.
Your lawyer will assist you in preparing these supporting documents:
- Supporting Affidavit (to be filed within 14 days from the filing of OS)
- Supplementary Affidavit (if Schedule is not filed in Supporting Affidavit)
- Others, such as Summons for the Discharge of Sureties, Affidavits, Court Orders, etc. (if there are vulnerable beneficiaries or Family Division of the High Court cases)
Stage 3 – Grant Extraction
After all the necessary documents have been filed and submitted, your lawyer can request the Grant of Probate.
Your lawyer will conduct a final caveat and probate search to ensure that no competing caveat and probate applications have been filed against the deceased’s estate.
With the Grant of Probate, the executor can request access to the deceased’s assets from various institutions.
Here are the documents involved in extracting a Grant of Probate:
- Request to Extract Grant – This demonstrates that you or the attorney have the legal authority to administer the estate of the deceased (property, money and possessions). If the deceased person left a will, a grant of probate is issued; otherwise, a letter of administration is issued.
- Administration Bond – An administration bond is a bond posted on behalf of an administrator of an estate to guarantee that they will carry out their responsibilities in accordance with the terms of the will and/or the legal requirements of the jurisdiction. The bond covers any financial losses incurred by the estate as a result of the administrator’s dishonesty or improper conduct.
- Request to Extract Memorandum of Resealing – The Singaporean Courts will issue a Memorandum of Resealing in response to a successful application for resealing a foreign grant of probate. This Memorandum of Resealing can be obtained by submitting a request to the Courts.
*The executor must distribute the assets according to the terms of the Will.
Stage 4 – Court Hearing
Upon acceptance of the application and Administration Oath, the Court sets a date for the probate hearing. If the Court received the Supporting Affidavit and final Schedule of Assets before this date, the hearing might proceed without the applicant’s presence; otherwise, the applicant’s lawyer or executor must be present.
2. What Is An Executor?
An executor is responsible for administering the estate. Consequently, they are a crucial participant in the probate procedure. Additionally, because the executor must collect the deceased’s assets, the assets flow to them before being distributed to the beneficiaries.
Therefore, you should carefully select the executor if you write a will. The executor has strict obligations to distribute the estate following the deceased’s Will. Nonetheless, the executor must perform several tasks:
- Determine the deceased’s assets and their value.
- First, settle the deceased’s debts. The debts include IRAS taxes, credit card debts, mortgage and auto loans, and personal loans.
- Distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries under Will’s instructions.
3. What If There’s No Will?
When an individual dies without a valid will, the beneficiaries require the personal representative (known as the “Administrator”) to petition the Court for the Letters of Administration.
When the Court issues Letters of Administration, the administrator can collect or sell the deceased’s assets and distribute the proceeds to the heirs. The administrator is typically the deceased’s spouse or a close relative.
As there was no will, the administrator must distribute the estate according to the Intestate Succession Act (Cap 146) (for non-Muslims) or the Administration of Muslim Law Act (for Muslims) (for Muslims).
4. How Long Will A Grant Of Probate Take To Process?
In Singapore, you may be able to obtain a Grant of Probate within two to six months if your probate case is uncontested.
During the probate process, if no one contests the will’s validity, the executor’s authority, or the bequests’ monetary distributions, the will is said to be “uncontested.” The process for a will that is uncontested moves much more quickly through the system.
However, your application may take longer to process if it is complex, such as when the deceased had many assets that must be identified and located.
Additionally, you should receive the Grant of Probate within four to six weeks of filing the final Court document.
Conclusion About The Grant Of Probate In Singapore
Although certain instances may not be necessary to obtain the Grant of Probate or the Grant Letters of Administration in Singapore, these instances are rare. They only apply to estates less than $50,000. In most instances, the Grant of Probate must distribute and release the estate.
Consult with us! An experienced Singapore probate lawyer can ensure that all requirements are met and that the estate is available to beneficiaries.
Frequently Asked Questions About The Grant Of Probate In Singapore
When Would A Probate Lawyer Be Required?
A probate lawyer is not always required to oversee the probate process. After submitting a probate application for the Grant of Probate or Letter of Administration, some individuals administer the estate of the deceased without the assistance of a probate lawyer.
This is sometimes done when the deceased’s estate is relatively small and straightforward, such as when there are no properties, insurance policies, company shares, or foreign assets.
Typically, individuals are advised to seek the assistance of a probate lawyer to ensure that all pertinent documents are in order. This allows the Court to immediately grant the legal rights to the executor or administrator.
Does The Estate Only Contain Common Property?
If the decedent invested personal wealth in multiple countries during his or her lifetime, it is necessary to account for the tax regimes that may apply in different countries. These include the succession tax, the capital transfer tax, and the inheritance tax.
In these circumstances, an executor or administrator will require the assistance of a probate lawyer with relevant expertise or knowledge of the applicable laws or tax regimes for that country to administer the estate.
Where Should The Application Be Submitted?
- If the gross value is less than $3 million, the application should be submitted to Family Justice Court.
- If the gross value is greater than $3 million, the application should be submitted to the Family Division of the High Courts.
If no executor was named in the decedent’s Will, the Court will grant Letters of Administration with the Will attached to whoever the Court deems “fit to administer the decedent’s estate” (pursuant to section 13 of the Probate and Administration Act).
Given that a Grant of Probate application requires numerous documents, it is prudent to seek legal counsel from a lawyer, particularly if the probate application is contentious.
How Do You Avoid Probate In Singapore?
Your executor may apply to the Court to become a Public Trustee instead of a Grant of Probate. If your estate is worth less than $50,000 and you have no outstanding debts or liabilities when you pass away, your estate may be able to avoid probate in Singapore. No Letters of Administration for the estate should be submitted either.