The key duty of an executor of a Will in Singapore is to administer the estate of the deceased and ensure that his/ her wishes are carried out. The purpose of this article is to give you a basic idea on the duties of an executor of Will in Singapore.
Duties of Executor of Will in Singapore
The executor is appointed by the deceased in his/ her Will to apply to Court for a grant of probate. The executor has a duty to the beneficiaries listed in the Will to act impartially in their best interests when administering the estate of the deceased.
The executor needs to:
1. Collect and convert the deceased’s assets into cash. This may involve applying to the Court for a grant of probate and liquidating the assets to pay out the funds to the beneficiaries.
2. Pay for the funeral and testamentary expenses and the deceased’s debts (before distribution to the beneficiaries).
Pursuant to Section 3A of the Trustees Act, the executor has a duty of care and must exercise reasonable care and skills in fulfilling his/ her duties.
An executor would not have fulfilled his/ her duties if he/ she does any of the following:
1. Fails to follow the terms of the Will.
2. Fails to pay off the debts/ taxes of the deceased.
It is possible for beneficiaries to sue the executor if the executor fails to discharge his/ her duties.
It may even be possible for the Court to remove the executor named in the Will in circumstances described in Section 55 of the Probate and Administration Act. The circumstances are:
1. No application for a grant of probate or letters of administration has been made within 6 months from the date of the deceased’s death.
2. An application for a grant of probate or letters of administration has been made within 6 months from the deceased’s death but the application was not proceeded with, or withdrawn or refused.
3. The grant of letters of administration has not been extracted.
Under Section 3 of the Probate and Administration Act, the executor may also renounce his/ her right to be an executor. This may be done orally or through the executor’s lawyer at the probate hearing. The executor may also renounce in writing and have a lawyer attest (witness) the renunciation.
The executor may also renounce without expressed renunciation. Under Section 4 of the Probate and Administration Act, the beneficiary may issue a citation to the executor and if the executor defaults in making an appearance, he/ she will be deemed to have renounce his/ her right to be an executor. Even if he/ she makes an appearance, he may renounce his/ her right by not applying for grant of probate or letters of administration.
Challenging a Will
Other than knowing the duties of an executor of Will in Singapore, you may also be curious about how to challenge the validity of a Will.
A Will can be challenged if one of the grounds is met:
1. The formalities of making a Will were not adhered to.
2. The testator did not have the mental capacity to make a Will.
3. The testator did not know or did not approve the contents of the Will.
4. The testator was under undue influence or the effects of fraud.
A beneficiary can challenge a Will. The Will will be void if the challenge is successful.
In addition, the deceased’s spouse and children can also request for a reasonable sum of maintenance to be paid from the deceased’s estate to them under the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act.
Finally, a person with an interest in the Will may also enter a caveat (as per Section 33 of the Probate and Administration Act) to ensure that no probate or letters of administration is granted without notice to him/ her. A caveat may allow the interested party to make enquiries on possible grounds to challenge the Will. The person making the caveat application must show that the grant of probate would affect his/ her interests.
Disputes Between Co-Executors
There may be disputes between co-executors on the administration of the assets. To prevent these disputes, the co-executors may wish to have regular communication with the beneficiaries and be timely in the discharge of their duties. They should also consider hiring a probate lawyer who may be helpful in settling disputes.
Contact us at +6598330314 (whatsapp) for more information on applying for a grant of probate in Singapore.
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