If a next-of-kin has passed away leaving behind assets (i.e. estate) but without a Will, the administration of his/ her estate must be commenced by way of an application for a grant of letters of administration. His/ her assets will be distributed as per the rules under Section 7 of the Intestate Succession Act. The grant of letters of administration is a legal document that gives authority to the administrator to administer and distribute the deceased’s assets.
If the deceased had left behind a Will, the application will be for the grant of probate instead.
When to Apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration?
This should be done if the deceased did not leave behind a Will or where there is a failure in the Will. For instance, there is no executor appointed under the Will, or the executor is unable/ unwilling to apply for grant of probate. It could also be that the executor is no longer alive or did not proceed to extract the grant of probate.
Administrator to Grant of Letters of Administration
The administrator has a duty to pay off the debts, liabilities, funeral expenses and taxes of the deceased before distributing any remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
Under Section 18 of the Probate and Administration Act, the spouse or next-of-kin or both may apply for the grant of letters of administration. Creditors may also apply, where no application is made by the spouse or next-of-kin of the deceased.
The following people, in descending order of priority, may apply for the grant of letters of administration in Singapore:
1. The spouse of the deceased.
2. The children of the deceased.
3. The parents of the deceased.
4. The siblings of the deceased.
5. The nephews and nieces of the deceased.
6. The grandparents of the deceased.
7. The uncles and aunties of the deceased.
Infants under the age of 21 and bankrupts cannot apply.
Up to 4 administrators may be appointed. At least 2 administrators must be appointed if there is at least 1 beneficiary under the age of 21.
If you do not wish to be an administrator, you may renounce your right to do so, either orally at the hearing for a grant of letters of administration or by way of a signed affidavit.
Applying for Grant of Letters of Administration
The easiest way to do so would be to appoint an experienced estate lawyer, given the number of forms to submit and procedure to follow.
Step 1: You will need to provide your estate lawyer with information on the proposed administrator and the deceased, the death certificate and a full list of assets left behind by the deceased. The death certificates of the next-of-kin should also be provided, if applicable. If the deceased is divorced, the divorce certificate should also be provided.
Step 2: A search for caveats on the deceased’s estate should be done and attached to your application.
Reasons should be given if the application is made after 6 months of the deceased’s death.
Step 3: The supporting affidavit and administration oath should be filed within 14 days of the application. In the supporting affidavit, you will confirm that the details provided in the application are correct. The administration oath is for the administrator to undertake that he/ she will faithfully administer the deceased’s estate.
The schedule of assets should also be filed with the supporting affidavit. This document will provide a full list of assets owned by the deceased. You can obtain more information by writing to the banks and financial institutions.
Step 4: You may apply to extract the grant of letters of administration after the Court issues the Court order. One last caveat search needs to be conducted before this.
Other Relevant Issues to Grant of Letters of Administration
If the deceased had died overseas, you will need to obtain a death certificate issued by the foreign country. If it is not in English, it should be translated.
If there are overseas assets, the overseas assets will be distributed according to the rules of that foreign jurisdiction.
The order of distribution is found under Section 7 of the Intestate Succession Act.
Contact us at +6598330314 (whatsapp) for more information on applying for a grant of letters of administration in Singapore.
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