Similar to many other countries, the law in Singapore requires that estate matters undergo a probate process before a deceased’s estate can be distributed to its beneficiaries.
Contrary to popular belief, a will isn’t sufficient in managing the deceased’s properties. It serves only as a legal document stating how an estate may be distributed after the passing of an individual.
Applying for a grant of probate in Singapore can be a complicated process. You must make sure all the required documents have been filed. You must also take strides to ensure no competing probate applications on a deceased’s estate.
Only after successfully achieving the above will a Singapore Court consider your application and issue you a Grant of Probate.
Although the probate application process is clearly defined in the law, engaging with qualified lawyers is necessary to ensure you’ve complied with the requirements.
Lawyers also must ensure the deceased has appropriately accounted for all the assets and liabilities.
We’ll walk you through the probate application process below. Learn more.
1. Why Is A Grant Of Probate Important?
There are only select cases wherein getting a Court order for a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration (if the deceased has failed to leave behind a will) is unnecessary.
Such cases are limited to instances wherein the deceased’s estate is valued at less than $50,000, and there are no pending liabilities or debts to settle.
But in practice, financial institutions in Singapore are generally hesitant about dispersing monetary funds without Court orders. This is true even for an estate value that does not exceed $5,000.
Apart from these cases, a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration Court order is essential for an executor to manage the estate legally.
A Grant of Letters of Administration is needed if there is no Will, it can’t be found, or it can no longer be recovered. It’s also required if the executor named in the Will cannot fulfil their duties for whatever reason.
But for probate application processes, wherein there is a last and final Will, and the executor can manage the estate distribution, he must file a Grant of Probate before any of the Family Justice Courts.
This Court will determine probate applications wherein the value of the state is below $3 million.
If the value exceeds $3 million, the Supreme Court of Singapore division will review the probate application grant instead.
2. Documents You Need To File During A Grant Of Probate Application
In every stage of the probate application process, you’ll need several required documents to file. These include:
- Ex-Parte Originating Summons – Originating Summons are ex-parte because they include the Will’s named executor as the only application. This document contains the deceased’s details and applicant information. It follows Form 48, which you can find in Appendix A of the Family Justice Courts Practice Directions (FJCPD).
- Caveats And Probate Search – Alongside the Originating Summons, you’ll need to attach a record of existing caveats and probate applications. These can indicate whether there are existing applications on the same estate. Or if there are objections regarding the Grant of Probate.
- Probate Statement – The probate statement includes the deceased’s estate’s estimated value and confirmation from the applicant’s authorities. The probate statement must be submitted within six months of the deceased’s death. If not, the applicant must attach written explanations on why they failed to meet this requirement.
- Administration Oath – The Probate and Administration Act states that the applicant for the Grant of Probate must oblige the Court to distribute the assets according to the Will. They must also handle payment of the deceased’s outstanding debts from their property assets. This obligation shall be communicated in the Administration Oath (Form 64, Appendix A, FJCPD Directions).
- Certified True Copy of the Death Certificate – You must submit this document to the Court so they can verify that the estate owner is legally certified as deceased. If you cannot secure the Death Certificate, the applicant or executor should search through the Death Records or extract probate via the ICA (Immigration and Checkpoints Authority).
- Certified Copy of the Will – You must submit a supporting affidavit together with the Will. The latter should be written in English or be attached with an appropriate English translation.
- Supporting Affidavit – You must file the supporting affidavit after submitting the Administration Oath. These documents should be attached to the Probate Statement, Death Certificate, Will, and the Schedule of Assets.
- Schedule of Assets – Ideally, the executor knows the sources of the deceased’s assets as they compile the Schedule of Assets. This dramatically speeds up the process. But if not, the executor named in the Will must reach out to the affiliated financial institutions for a complete list of the deceased’s assets in Singapore and other countries (real estate, secured debts, personal property, insurance, etc.)
- Supplementary Affidavit – If the executor does not know the full scope of the deceased’s estate and must reach out to these financial institutions, they must attach a Supplementary Affidavit after making such inquiries.
3. Steps In Applying For A Grant Of Probate In Singapore
Step 1: File An Initial Application
An initial filing of the probate application should be done through the eLitigation website. Executors who choose to handle the application process without engaging a lawyer must seek assistance from the Service Bureau.
At this phase, the executor or lawyer submits the Ex-Parte Originating Summons, Death Certificate, Probate Statement, Will, Caveats, and Application Search Report.
After filing, the lawyer or executor sends the Will to the Probate Counter at the Family Justice Courts.
Step 2: Submitting The Schedule Of Assets, Supporting Affidavit, And Administration Oath
Once the Court has accepted the initial application, you or your lawyer must sign and file the Supporting Affidavit and Administration Oath within 14 days.
All of the above must be accomplished before a Commissioner for Oaths in Singapore. If the estate executor isn’t in Singapore at the time of filing, the documents must be notarised.
Step 3: Attending The Court Hearing
Once the Court accepts the initial application and Administration Oath, they will schedule a date for a probate hearing.
If the Court receives the final Schedule of Assets and Supporting Affidavit after the scheduled hearing, the hearing may push through without the applicant/executor.
Step 4: Reaching Out To Financial Institutions And Filing The Schedule Of Assets And Supplementary Affidavit
As mentioned, the lawyer or applicant must inquire from financial institutions in Singapore and overseas if they don’t know the exact scope of the deceased’s estate.
After receiving responses to the inquiries, the executor or lawyer signs the Supplementary Affidavit and Schedule of Assets before the Commissioner for Oaths.
Step 5: Grant Of Probate Court Extraction
Once the Court determines the deceased’s estate is eligible for probate and distribution, the lawyer or executor requests a Grant of Probate extraction.
However, before doing so, the executor must secure the final caveat and probate application. Doing this ensures there are no competing applications on the same estate.
The Court transmits the electronic copy of the Grant of Probate through the eLitigation platform.
You may request the Court for a hard copy embossed with a red seal. But this isn’t necessary as the electronic Grant is already considered legal and valid.
Conclusion About The Grant Of Probate In Singapore
A Grant of Probate in Singapore ensures that a deceased’s assets will be distributed accordingly by the executor to the rightful beneficiaries.
Singapore Courts provide the Grant of Probate only after the Court determines the applicant has done due diligence in providing the last Will, searching for existing caveats and competing claims, and submitting all required documents.
As probate application can be overwhelming for the everyday individual, the process often involves the presence of a lawyer.
If you need assistance applying for a Grant of Probate in Singapore, engage our lawyers here at Tembusu Law. We offer 30 minutes’ worth of free legal advice to first-time clients.
Aside from probate lawyers, we also have Corporate, Litigation, Bankruptcy, Criminal, and Family/Divorce lawyers in Singapore.
Frequently Asked Questions About The Grant Of Probate In Singapore
How Long Will It Take To Get A Grant Of Probate In Singapore?
Getting a Grant of Probate in Singapore will take 2-6 months. The duration may be longer, depending on the case’s complexities.
What Happens If The Deceased Passed Away Overseas?
If the deceased passed away overseas, the applicant must contact the corresponding foreign authorities to obtain a death certificate in its corresponding English translation (if the document wasn’t originally in English).
What Is An Executor?
An executor named in the deceased’s final Will is the appointed individual to collect the deceased’s assets, clear pending liabilities and debts, and distribute the assets according to the terms stated in the Will.
Who Can Apply For A Grant?
Usually, individuals with a greater entitlement to the deceased person’s estate have the right to apply for a grant.
Why Should I Conduct A Probate And Caveat Search?
A search for existing caveats and probate applications is necessary. The Court is required by law to allow the caveator (person who has entered the caveat) the right to challenge your probate application.
Where Will I Conduct The Caveat Searches?
You must search for caveats and existing claims at any CrimsonLogic Service Bureau office.
Why Do I Need To Submit A Schedule Of Assets?
Securing and submitting a Schedule of Assets before the Court is necessary, as it allows the Court to confirm the estate’s value and determine the payable fees in the probate application.
Do I Have To Attach Bank Statements To The Schedule Of Assets?
No. You don’t have to attach bank statements and other supporting documents while submitting the Schedule of Assets.