If you are in the process of preparing a Will in Singapore, you will need to appoint at least 1 executor (2 executors if you have at least 1 minor beneficiary).
Job Scope of Executor of Will in Singapore
What does an executor of Will do? The key responsibilities of an executor of Will in Singapore are as follows:
1. Applying to Court for grant of probate. This is a Court order which will allow the executor to administer the estate of the deceased.
2. Identifying and locating all the assets of the deceased.
3. Paying the deceased’s debtors from funds out of the assets of the deceased.
4. If there is any remaining asset after payments are made to debtors, the executor will distribute the remaining assets to the deceased’s beneficiaries.
5. Making funeral arrangements for the deceased.
It is important that the testator (i.e. the person making the Will) selects someone who is capable and willing to fulfil the above responsibilities to be his/ her executor. Executors of Will in Singapore have a fiduciary duty to the deceased to carry out his/ her wishes in a diligent and honest manner.
Legal Requirements to be Appointed as Executor of Will in Singapore
Most testators in Singapore opt for someone whom they know personally to be their executors. They key legal requirements of executors of Will in Singapore are as follows:
1. Be of sound mind.
2. Not be a bankrupt.
3. Above the age of 21.
It is possible to select your beneficiary as the executor of your Will, especially when you are leaving all your assets to a sole beneficiary.
In the alternative, you may choose a professional executor of Will in Singapore (for instance a trust company approved and licensed by the MAS).
Other Considerations in Appointing an Executor of Will in Singapore
Many testators pick a close relative an executor of their Will. This is because a close relative would know the wishes of the testator well and they are naturally trustworthy given the relationship between them and the testator. However, the additional responsibilities of being an executor of Will while mourning can be a burden for the close relative.
Many testators also opt for a trusted family friend to be their executor. The friend will be trusted and focused enough to fulfil the responsibilities of an executor of Will. If you decide to appoint a trusted family friend to be your executor, this person should be someone whom you know and trust well. He/ she should also be concerned about the welfare of your beneficiaries. If you are going to let the executor to decide certain issues on your behalf, this friend should also know your preferences well.
Have a close relative or trusted family friend as your executor is helpful given that they know your preferences well.
However, it may be helpful to appoint a professional executor if:
1. Your estate is large.
2. Your Will is complicated.
3. There may be a dispute over the validity of your Will.
4. Your assets are located overseas.
A professional executor will have the resources and expertise to handle complex estate administration duties where financial expertise is crucial. A professional executor will also be better equipped to handle unexpected legal obstacles such as legal challenges to the validity of your Will. It is important to note that executors of Will in Singapore owe a duty to the testators. With duty comes liability. To avoid exposing your family and friends to such liability, it may be wise to appoint a professional executor. However, a professional executor does not know you personally and will not be able to understand your personal preferences. To mitigate this, it will be appropriate for you to provide more details in your Will.
It is also possible for you to have a hybrid option, whereby you appoint 2 executors- a professional executor to handle the more complex issues and a family member/ trusted friend to handle the discretionary issues.
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