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What Is A Will?

A person makes a Will to provide for the administration and distribution of what he owns (‘his estate’) among his beneficiaries after his death. This person is called ‘the testator’. ‘Beneficiaries’ are those who inherit or benefit under the Will. The ‘Executor’ is the person nominated by the testator to administer and distribute his estate upon his death. Usually, the same person is appointed as executor and trustee (a person who has the power to hold the estate of the deceased on the death of the deceased).

If there are beneficiaries who are minors (persons under the age of 21 years) named in your Will, it will be preferable to have at least two Trustees who will be able to administer or hold any assets, invest, or use any money for the benefit of the minors.

Can I Write My Own Will?

If you are 21 years of age and of sound mind, you may make your own Will and alter it during your lifetime without using the services of a lawyer. However, without proper legal advice, you run the risk of your Will being challenged or deemed invalid after your passing. Given that your Will is exercised only after your passing, it is important to seek legal advice so that your estate lands in the hands of your intended beneficiaries and will not be subject to complications upon your passing.

If you are less than 21 years of age, you can only make a Will if you are a soldier in active military service, a mariner or a seaman at sea.

What If I Do Not Have A Will?

If there is no Will upon your passing, then your estate will be distributed in accordance to Singapore’s Intestate Succession Act (section 7: Rules of Distribution).

As a general rule, the priority of distribution is as follows:

  • Spouse and children
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts and Uncles

However, the actual distribution rules are complicated and it may be necessary to seek advise from a lawyer in order to determine whether or not a Will should be drafted in order to best reflect your wishes upon your passing.

What is A Grant Of Probate?

Probate is a process by which the Family Justice Courts (FJC) proves and validates a will, legally recognizing the executor named in the will.

Through the process of probate, a valid will becomes a legal instrument that is enforceable in the courts, if necessary. The executor/executrix, once legally recognized, takes administration of the testator’s assets and may subsequently handle and assign the testator’s assets according to the probated will.

What are Letters of Administration?

When a deceased individual has not left behind a will, the deceased’s next of kin may submit an application for letters of Administration to the FJC. If the letters of Administration are granted, the administrator gains legal authority to administer the estate and distribute the deceased’s assets according to Singapore law.

How do I make an application for Probate / Letters of Administration?

In order for the courts to issue a grant of probate or letters of administration, an application must first be filed in court. Supporting documents detailing the assets of the estate should also be provided to your lawyers. This will allow your lawyers to assess whether to file the application with the Supreme Court or the FJC.

If such documents are not available, you may wish to instruct your lawyers to write to all the relevant institutions to enquire on the status of the estate’s assets.

How can I improve my chances of being granted Probate / Letters of Administration?

If a will is valid and/or the application satisfies the necessary requirements, the Registrar will generally grant probate. However, under certain circumstances, the Registrar has the discretion to refuse a grant, even towards an executor named in a valid will. Similarly, even if your application for letters of administration is uncontested, the Registrar has discretion to refuse a grant.

At Hoh Law Corporation, our lawyers are ready to advise and provide you with all the assistance necessary to ensure your petition or application meets all necessary requirements.

Wish to make a consultation?

If you are the administrator or executor/executrix of a will, you are welcome to come for a free 15-minute consultation with our lawyers at your first appointment.

Kindly ensure that you bring the following documents with you at your first consultation:

  • NRIC of executor(s) or administrator(s);
  • Death Certificate;
  • Original Will, if any;
  • Photocopies of NRICs of all beneficiaries;
  • Title deeds of deceased's properties to confirm whether the titles are held in joint tenancy or tenancy-in-common (if any);
  • List of assets, if possible.
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