An executor of a Will is a trusted person who is appointed by the testator (i.e. person making the Will) to administer the assets and carry out the wishes of the testator after his/ her death.
An executor can be appointed if he/ she is over the age of 21, not a bankrupt and of a sound mind. The executor appointed is usually a trusted person (e.g. family member or close friend) of the testator or it could be a professional executor like a trust company licensed by the MAS.
How Many Executors Will be Appointed?
At least 1 executor will be appointed for the Will. However, if there is at least one minor beneficiary, 2 executors should be appointed. If the testator is concerned that one of the executors will pass away with, or shortly after, him/ her, the testator may also appoint a substitute executor.
How Does an Executor Know of His/ Her Appointment?
Usually, an executor will know when the testator informed him/ her of the intention to appoint him/ her as the executor. A testator will usually seek the approval of the executor before appointing him/ her, so as to ensure that the executor will do his best to administer the Will when the time comes.
Otherwise, an executor may be informed by the deceased’s lawyer or a close family member/ friend of the deceased.
What if the Will is Not Kept at a Known Place?
After the passing of the deceased, the executor will need to get hold of the deceased’s Will to apply for a grant of probate. In the event that the Will’s whereabouts is not known, the executor may retrieve information from the Wills Registry to obtain information on the Will. You will need to produce identification documents and death certificate of the deceased to conduct a search. Next-of-kin will need to show proof of relationship, such as birth certificate or marriage certificate.
What Should Executor Do After Death of Deceased?
The executor may reject the appointment and renounce his/ her right to apply for probate.
If the executor chooses to accept the appointment, he/ she is required to complete the checklist for executor of Will:
1. Read the Will and Understand the Deceased’s Intentions
The executor will need to administer the deceased’s estate according to his/ her wishes.
2. Make Funeral Arrangements
If funeral arrangements are stipulated in the Will, the executor should make arrangements as such.
3. Obtain Relevant Documents Needed for Grant of Probate
The following relevant documents are needed for the grant of probate:
1. Originating summons, statement, supporting affidavit (i.e. Court documents).
2. Results of probate caveat searches.
3. Schedule of Assets.
4. Administration oaths, affidavits and consents of co-administrators or renunciations.
5. Certified true copy of death certificate.
6. Certified true copy of last Will.
4. Apply for a Grant of Probate
The easiest way to do this would be to appoint a probate lawyer who will assist with the required legal steps.
The grant of probate is a Court order which gives the executor the power to carry out instructions in the Will.
An important step in applying for the grant of probate is to prepare the schedule of assets identifying the assets (and their values) and the debts of the deceased. The executor may use the Will as reference. The executor may also write to the various banks for more information.
While you do not need a probate lawyer to apply for a grant of probate, a probate lawyer will be able to file the application in a more efficient manner which could help to simply the probate process.
5. After the Grant of Probate
After the grant of probate, if the deceased has more assets than liabilities, the estate can be used to pay off the debts and taxes, such as income tax liabilities under Section 58 of the Income Tax Act. If the deceased has more debts than assets, then his funeral, testamentary and administration expenses shall have priority over the debts or taxes to be paid.
As per Section 67 of the Probate and Administration Act, reimbursement of funeral expenses, reasonable testamentary and other expenses may be allowed.
6. Give Notice of Intention to Distribute Assets
The executor has a duty to ensure that all beneficiaries, creditors and other persons with an interest in the estate are paid according to the Will. The executor may also place an advertisement of his/ her intention to distribute the deceased’s assets in the Government Gazette or newspapers. This advertisement is a notice for anyone with an interest in the estate to come forward to make their claim within 2 months.
7. Distribute the Assets
The executor shall distribute the deceased’s assets according to his/ her Will, within a reasonable time of the deceased’s death.
8. Keep Account of Administration of Estate
The executor has a duty to keep accounts and allow the beneficiary to inspect the accounts when requested. Before distribution, the executor should also submit the accounts to the beneficiaries for their approval.
9. Pay of Executor?
It is not mandatory for the executor to be paid. However, the Court has the discretion to pay the executor up to 5% of the value of the assets collected.
If you have been appointed as an executor, you should take note of the checklist for executor of Will described above. However, it is prudent for you to appoint a probate lawyer to assist you with your duties as an executor of Will.
Contact us at +6598330314 (whatsapp) for more information on applying for a grant of probate in Singapore.
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