What happens if a Will goes missing? This may happen in a case when you have a loved one who has just passed away. You know that he/ she has a Will but you are unable to locate the Will. What should you do if you still cannot find the Will after going through the deceased’s personal belongings?
What Happens if a Will Goes Missing?
If you are certain that the deceased had executed a Will which cannot be found, you may wish to do a search with the Wills Registry for information on the Will.
The Wills Registry is maintained by the Singapore Academy of Law. Testators (i.e. people who have executed a Will) can deposit information on their Will with the Wills Registry for a small fee and the Wills Registry will store the information up to the point when the testator reaches 120 years old. It does not retain the original Will or make a photocopy of the Will.
The information that may be lodged with the Wills Registry include:
1. The date of the Will.
2. The lawyer who prepared the Will.
3. The location of the Will. This will be very helpful.
Request for Assistance from the Preparer of the Will
If you know the lawyer who prepared the Will, you may also wish to contact him/ her to request for further information. The law firm should at least have a photocopy of the Will.
If you do not know who had prepared the Will, you can search for such information from the Wills Registry. You may also put up a notice in the Law Gazette to reach out to the lawyer who prepared the Will. The lawyer may contact you after seeing the notice. The lawyer will disclose the contents of the Will to the executor of the Will (as listed in the Will).
Copy of Will
In the event that the original Will cannot be found despite your best efforts, the Court can still grant the probate based on a copy/ draft of the Will under Section 9 of the Probate and Administration Act. It may also be possible for the Court to grant the probate in the absence of a copy/ draft if the contents of the Will can be sufficiently established without them.
The procedure for the application to the Court to admit a copy, a draft or the contents of the Will is found in Rule 248 of the Family Justice Rules. Strictly speaking, you can make the application yourself. However, the documents to prepare and information to provide may be complex to a layperson. You should consult an experienced probate lawyer on the process and information to provide for such an application.
Assuming that the Court accepts the application, the executor can then make an application for the grant of probate (i.e. a Court order allowing the administration of the assets by the executor).
What Happens if a Will/ Draft/ Copy Still Cannot be Found?
In the worst case scenario, it could well be that the deceased did not execute a Will. The assets of the deceased will be distributed according to Rule 7 of the Intestate Succession Act.
Contact us at +6598330314 (whatsapp) for more information on applying for a grant of probate in Singapore.
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