Intestate Succession Act And Intestacy Law In Singapore

by | Jul 28, 2023 | Knowledge & Insights

In Singapore, the Intestate Succession Act, also known as the intestate law Singapore or intestacy law Singapore, is a crucial legislation governing the distribution of assets when an individual passes away without a valid will. This legal framework provides clear guidelines and procedures for inheritance in cases where explicit asset distribution instructions are unavailable.

Understanding the implications of the Intestate Succession Act is essential for Singaporeans who may find themselves in situations where their deceased brother has not left behind a will. This act is the legal foundation for determining how the deceased’s estate and assets will be distributed among the rightful beneficiaries.

This guide offers valuable insights into the critical aspects of the Intestate Succession Act and its impact on individuals dealing with the estate of their deceased brother. Whether you seek clarity on intestate succession or want to familiarise yourself with intestacy law in Singapore, this resource will be your go-to guide.

We will explore topics such as obtaining letters of administration, administering the deceased’s estate, and distributing assets following the Intestate Succession Act. By delving into these crucial aspects, we aim to equip you with the knowledge and understanding necessary to navigate the intricacies of dealing with a deceased brother’s estate.

What Is The Intestate Succession Act?

The Intestate Succession Act, commonly referred to as intestate law Singapore, serves as a crucial framework for resolving the distribution of assets in situations where a person passes away without a valid will.

When there is no clear indication of the deceased’s wishes regarding asset allocation, the Intestate Succession Act ensures an orderly process by which the Court appoints an administrator to handle the estate’s affairs. The administrator represents the deceased and assumes the responsibility of managing the estate following the provisions outlined in the act.

In cases of intestacy, the Court’s role becomes pivotal as it exercises its authority to determine how the deceased’s estate will be divided. The Court follows a predetermined order of priority for distributing assets, considering factors such as:

  • Surviving spouse
  • Children
  • Parents,
  • Other relatives

The Intestate Succession Act provides a clear hierarchy to guide the Court in making fair and equitable decisions regarding asset distribution, ensuring that the deceased’s estate is allocated to reflect legal obligations and familial relationships. Here are some key points to remember in Singapore’s intestate succession act:

Grant Of Probate

In administering the estate of a deceased person, the appointed administrator may need to obtain a grant of probate. This grant is a formal confirmation from the Court, affirming the administrator’s authority to manage and distribute the assets following the Intestate Succession Act.

Financial institutions, such as banks and investment firms, often require this grant to prove the administrator’s legal standing when dealing with the deceased’s accounts and assets.

With the grant of probate in hand, the administrator gains the necessary power to access and manage the deceased’s financial resources. This includes closing bank accounts, selling properties, collecting insurance benefits, and settling outstanding debts. Presenting the grant of probate to financial institutions, allows the administrator to navigate the administrative processes smoothly and ensure that the deceased’s financial matters are appropriately addressed.

Distribution Of Assets

Regarding the distribution of assets, the Intestate Succession Act outlines specific guidelines to ensure fairness and equality among the beneficiaries. Without a will, the act stipulates that the deceased’s estate should be divided into equal portions among the entitled beneficiaries.

However, it’s important to note that the surviving spouse is entitled to a larger estate share than other beneficiaries. The parent’s estate share is also significant under the Intestate Succession Act.

If the deceased has no surviving spouse or children, the dead’s parents are entitled to a portion of the estate. This provision acknowledges the role and importance of parents in the lives of individuals and recognizes their rights as beneficiaries in the event of intestacy.

Obtaining a grant of probate is a crucial step in administering a deceased person’s estate. This document grants the administrator the authority to manage the deceased’s assets, including financial matters with various institutions.

The Intestate Succession Act ensures the equal distribution of assets among beneficiaries, with a larger share allocated to the surviving spouse and a significant portion reserved for the parents if no spouse or children exist. By following the act’s provisions and obtaining the grant of probate, the administrator can carry out their responsibilities legally soundly, facilitating the fair distribution of the deceased’s estate.

Order Of Priority

The principle of equal proportions is upheld regarding the distribution of assets under the Intestate Succession Act. This means the estate is divided fairly and equitably among the entitled beneficiaries.

The surviving spouse is typically entitled to a substantial share of the estate, reflecting the importance of their relationship with the deceased. The specific portion allocated to the spouse may vary depending on the presence of other beneficiaries and the estate’s value.

Following the spouse, the act prioritises the deceased’s children as the subsequent beneficiaries. They are entitled to a portion of the estate equally, ensuring fairness among siblings. If the deceased has no surviving spouse or children, the act recognizes the rights of the parents. The deceased’s parents are then entitled to a share of the estate, reflecting their significant role in the deceased’s life.

It’s important to note that the Intestate Succession Act defines the order of priority for asset distribution, ensuring that the deceased’s wishes, if not expressed through a valid will, are adhered to.

An executor may be appointed to oversee the distribution process and ensure compliance with the act. The executor acts as the deceased’s legal representative and carries out the necessary duties to fulfil the act’s provisions.

Financial institutions, along with other parties involved in the distribution of assets, must recognize the order of priority established by the Intestate Succession Act. They should cooperate with the appointed executor and follow the instructions for asset distribution accordingly. This ensures that the deceased’s money and assets are distributed equally among the entitled beneficiaries, including the spouse, children, parents, and other relatives, as defined by the act.

In conclusion, the Intestate Succession Act provides a clear order of priority for the distribution of assets in cases where a person dies without a valid will. The act ensures that the surviving spouse, children, parents, and other relatives equally receive their rightful shares of the estate.

The appointment of an executor and the cooperation of financial institutions play vital roles in fulfilling the act’s provisions and ensuring the fair distribution of the deceased’s assets according to the established order of priority.

Responsibilities Of The Administrator

When a person passes away without a valid will, the responsibility of managing the deceased’s estate falls upon the administrator, who can be either a family member or the Public Trustee’s office.

The administrator is crucial in handling various aspects of the estate administration process, ensuring that the assets are appropriately identified, valued, and distributed following the Intestate Succession Act. The administrator’s responsibilities include:

  • Identify and gather all the assets belonging to the deceased: This includes properties, bank accounts, investments, personal belongings, and other valuable possessions. By conducting a thorough inventory, the administrator ensures that all assets are accounted for and can be appropriately distributed among the beneficiaries.
  • Settling outstanding debts and taxes: This involves identifying the deceased’s outstanding liabilities or financial obligations, such as loans, credit card debts, or unpaid taxes. The administrator ensures that these debts are settled using the available assets in the estate before proceeding with the distribution process. Addressing such financial obligations ensures the beneficiaries interests’ are safeguarded, and the estate is managed correctly.
  • Remaining assets are distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries: The administrator follows the specific provisions of the act, which prioritise the spouse, children, parents, and other relatives in a predetermined order. The administrator ensures that the assets are distributed fairly and equitably, considering the entitlements of each beneficiary based on their relationship to the deceased.

In appointing an administrator or the involvement of the Public Trustee, the state ensures that the deceased’s estate is managed and distributed relatively and orderly. The Court strives to protect the rights of the surviving spouse, their immediate relatives, and other entitled beneficiaries in administering the deceased’s estate in equal portions.

Role Of The Public Trustee In Intestate Cases

In some instances where no eligible administrator is available to handle the administration of the deceased’s estate, the Public Trustee steps in to fulfil this role.

The Public Trustee acts as an impartial and neutral entity, ensuring the fair distribution of assets following the Succession Act. Their involvement becomes crucial when there are complexities or disputes regarding the estate or when there are no suitable family members or individuals to take on the responsibility of the administration.

Following the Intestate Succession Act, the Public Trustee ensures that each beneficiary receives their fair share. For instance, the assets may be divided equally if the deceased has a surviving spouse and children.

In cases with no immediate family members, the assets may be distributed equally among other relatives. Moreover, the Public Trustee also considers any insurance policies associated with the deceased’s estate. They review the policies, handle any necessary claims, and ensure that the proceeds are appropriately accounted for and distributed as per the Intestate Succession Act.

Conclusion On The Intestate Succession Act In Singapore

The Intestate Succession Act, also known as the probate and administration act, holds significant importance in Singaporean family matters when it comes to the distribution of assets in the absence of a valid will.

This legal framework ensures that assets are allocated equally among entitled beneficiaries, with an executor overseeing the administration process. Understanding the implications of this act is crucial for families to navigate the complexities of estate distribution effectively.

If you find yourself in a situation where the Intestate Succession Act applies, seeking professional guidance and support is highly recommended.

Our team of experts at Singapore Family Lawyer is dedicated to providing personalised assistance tailored to your specific needs. We understand the sensitivity and importance of estate administration and are here to help you navigate the process with care and expertise.

Book a consultation today and take the first step towards safeguarding your family’s future.

Frequently Asked Questions About Intestacy Laws

What Happens If There Is A Dispute Among The Beneficiaries?

In a dispute among the beneficiaries regarding the distribution of assets under the Intestate Succession Act, seeking legal advice to resolve the matter is recommended. Conflicts can arise due to disagreements over the interpretation of the act, the identification of entitled beneficiaries, or the allocation of specific assets.

You can better understand your rights and options in resolving the dispute by seeking legal guidance. In some cases, it may be necessary to bring the matter before the Court, which will decide based on the provisions of the Intestate Succession Act and other relevant laws. The Court’s role is to ensure a fair and just resolution, considering the interests of all parties involved.

Can Assets Acquired After The Deceased’s Death Be Included In The Distribution Under The Intestate Succession Act?

Generally, assets acquired after the deceased’s death are not included in the distribution under the Intestate Succession Act. The act primarily focuses on investments owned by the deceased at their death. These assets form the estate subject to distribution among the entitled beneficiaries.

Assets acquired after death, such as those obtained through inheritance, gifts, or other means, may be governed by different legal frameworks or estate planning documents, if any. It is essential to differentiate between assets owned by the deceased at the time of death and those acquired afterwards to ensure proper administration and distribution.

What Happens If A Beneficiary Cannot Accept Their Share Of The Estate Under The Intestate Succession Act?

In cases where a beneficiary cannot accept their share of the estate under the Intestate Succession Act, they can renounce or disclaim their entitlement. Renouncing or disclaiming means voluntarily giving up their rights to the inheritance. This decision could arise from various reasons, such as personal circumstances, financial considerations, or personal choice.

When a beneficiary renounces their share, it is typically redistributed among the remaining entitled beneficiaries according to the act’s provisions. Renunciation or disclaimer of inheritance rights usually requires a formal legal process and should be done following applicable laws and procedures.

Can A Child Born Out Of Wedlock Inherit From The Estate Under The Intestate Succession Act?

Yes, the Intestate Succession Act recognizes the inheritance rights of children born out of wedlock. Regardless of the parent’s marital status, children born out of wedlock have equal rights to inherit from their parents’ estates under the act.

However, establishing paternity is crucial to determining the child’s heir eligibility. Paternity can be found through various means, such as:

  • DNA testing
  • Acknowledgement by the father; or
  • Court determination

Once paternity is legally established, the child is entitled to their share of the deceased’s estate and other entitled beneficiaries.

Can The Surviving Spouse Inherit The Entire Estate Under The Intestate Succession Act?

Under the Intestate Succession Act, while the surviving spouse is entitled to a significant portion of the estate, they do not necessarily inherit it. The distribution of assets among the surviving family members depends on the specific circumstances and the presence of other entitled beneficiaries.

Can Assets Be Distributed To Non-Family Members Under The Intestate Succession Act?

Yes. If the estate owner passes away without any surviving spouses, children, parents, or siblings, their estate will go to other relatives, such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, or their relatives’ children, based on an order of priority.

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.