Ideally, before passing, one must have drafted a valid will. A will is a legal document which outlines the deceased’s wishes on how their assets and estate will be distributed.
Assets can be anywhere from the marital flat, private property, Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies, etc.
But without a will, the deceased’s assets can only be administered according to Singapore’s Intestate Succession Act. The person who wishes to administer and manage the estate must apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration.
1. What Is A Grant Of Letters Of Administration And Why You Need To Apply For It
Simply put, a Grant of Letters of Administration is another legal document permitting an individual to distribute and administer the deceased’s assets.
It is required, mainly when a departed relative or family member has not left behind a will before their passing.
You’ll also need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration if there is a will, however, there is a failure of the executor in these circumstances:
- The deceased has not appointed an executor in the will.
- The previously appointed executor is legally incapable of executing the assets.
- The previously appointed executor has legally renounced their right to act.
- The executor passes away before the deceased.
- The executor passes away before getting probate or administering the estates.
- The executor fails to appear and extract the probate.
The Family Court usually grants the Letters of Administration to the next of kin. But if any of the above mentioned situations happen, another person must apply for it.
2. What You Need To Know Before You Apply For A Grant
Remember that the administrator must ensure the deceased’s debts, taxes, liabilities, and funeral expenses have been paid. Additionally, the Intestate Succession Act laws have given estate administration rights to specific individuals.
Here they are in descending order of priority:
- The deceased’s husband or wife
- The deceased’s children
- Minors or children aged 21 and below cannot be administrators.
- If they are children, administration rights will be granted to their guardians.
- The deceased’s parents
- The deceased’s sister or brother
- The deceased’s nieces and nephews
- The deceased’s grandparents
- The deceased’s aunts and uncles
Persons entitled to apply for the Grant but are mentally disordered cannot apply for the Grant. Instead, their guardian or the person legally entrusted with handling the mentally disordered person’s affairs will apply for it.
3. How Will The Administrator Distribute The Assets Through Letters Of Administration?
The ISA has set forth several rules on how the administrator must divide the deceased’s assets accordingly:
- If the intestate (person who died without a will) has left behind a surviving spouse or widower:
- The surviving husband or wife will get all the assets, provided the intestate doesn’t have children or parents
- If the deceased has left behind a spouse and children
- The spouse receives 50% of the assets, while the children will get the other 50%.
- If the deceased has left behind children and no spouse
- The children will be equally entitled to all the assets
- If the deceased has left behind a spouse and parents without any children
- The spouse gets 50% while the parents get the other 50%.
- If the deceased has parents, but no spouse and children
- The parents get 100% of the assets in equal portions
- If the deceased only has siblings (brothers and sisters), but no spouse, children, and parents
- The siblings get 100% of the assets
- If the siblings have also passed away, their children, if any, get 100% of the assets.
- If the deceased only has uncles and aunts but is unmarried, no children, parents, siblings (or sibling’s children)
- The aunts and uncles get 100% of the assets in equal portions.
- If the deceased doesn’t have any living relatives
- The State will get 100% of the assets
4. How Many Administrators Can Apply?
The Court may appoint a maximum of four (4) administrators. They will work together in administering the estate and must be unanimous in all decisions.
If the intended estate beneficiaries are minors (below 21 years old), the Court must appoint at least two (2) administrators or a trust corporation.
A trust corporation or trust company is an entity that can legally administer, manage, and transfer the assets to the beneficiaries.
5. Things To Consider Before Applying For A Grant Of Letters Of Administration
There are quite a few things you need to do before applying for a Grant of Letters. First, you have to ensure that the deceased has not left a will behind.
If you suspect a will, thoroughly search the deceased’s personal belongings and any other places where they may have kept the will. Talking to immediate family members and relatives may help you get the necessary information.
You may also search through the Wills Registry. It doesn’t hold the actual will, but the registry can direct you to the person or law firm with a copy of the will.
Another thing to consider is if there are existing caveats and probate applications on the deceased’s estate.
You must search for existing claims or rights to administer the deceased’s estate at the CrimsonLogic Service Bureau.
Finding out if there are existing probate cases or caveats is crucial because the Court can choose not to issue a grant if there are competing applications for the Grant.
Conducting caveat searches helps determine if there are any other caveats filed against the estate. If you’re unsure how to proceed with this matter, it’s best to engage with a professional lawyer in Singapore.
Schedule Of Assets
Distributing the assets can be difficult without knowing the value of the deceased’s assets. Before applying for the Grant, make sure to find all the relevant information from financial institutions:
- Housing and Development Board (HDB)
You may need a Schedule of Assets because the Court will use this document to confirm the estate’s total value. The surviving beneficiaries and creditors will also refer to the Schedule of Assets when assessing the deceased’s estate value.
6. How Much Is A Letter Of Administration In Singapore?
The price of a letter of administration in Singapore will depend on several factors. At Singapore Family Lawyer, we always try to work within a budget that’s comfortable and fair for everyone. This generally depends on the scope and amount of work involved – we can discuss and agree on this when we talk to you about your case to understand the current situation, and then work out a feasible budget together including via instalment payments if necessary to assist you.
You may seek legal advice from our lawyers. We provide a free 30-minute first-time consultation, helping you figure out the total cost of the application.
7. How To Apply For A Grant Of Letters Of Administration
If you are entitled to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration, you must secure a Probate and Administration Toolkit.
The toolkit contains a complete guide on applying for a Grant of Letters. It also details the Probate and Administration Act, securing all documents, and submitting all required forms.
What You Need Before Applying For A Grant Of Letters Of Administration:
- Letters of Administration Application Form – You may secure this from the Service Bureau
- Schedule of Assets – You may submit this after you file your application.
- Summary Reports of Existing Probate Cases – You must attach this with the Originating Summons
- Copy of the Deceased’s Death Certificate
- (For Muslims) Copy Of The Inheritance Certificate
- All other documents you have submitted in your application
What Happens After Filing A Grant Of Letters Of Administration?
After filing, the Service Bureau will inform you through email or SMS. If the Court approves your application, you can claim your documents from the Service Bureau.
The Court assigns a case number to your application and will proceed with scheduling a hearing date. Make sure to prepare and file a Supporting Affidavit within two (2) weeks after you have filed the Originating Summons.
If there are any errors in the forms you’ve submitted, the Court will reject your application. You will have to correct the errors and resubmit the documents.
Conclusion About Letters Of Administration
Applying for a Grant of Letters can be confusing for beginners, with many documents and procedures to consider.
If you’re still at a loss, it’s best to seek legal support to help ease your burden. You can call any of our lawyers to assist you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Letters Of Administration
What Happens If There’s An Existing Probate Or Administration Application?
There can legally be only one valid Grant for an estate. If contesting applications exist, each party must amicably decide how to proceed.
What Happens If The Owner Of The Estate Passes Away While Overseas?
If the estate owner died overseas, those applying for the Grant of Letters of Administration must secure the death certificate from the respective foreign authorities.
The document must be translated into English if necessary.
Where Should I File The Letters of Administration Application Form?
You must file the application form in Singapore’s Family Justice Courts.
However, if the estate exceeds a value of $5 million, you must apply to the High Court Family Division.
Who Are The Estate Beneficiaries?
Estate beneficiaries have been determined in the Intestate Succession Act (for non-Muslims) or according to Muslim law. Beneficiaries are those who will get a share of the deceased’s estate.