Letters Of Administration Singapore: A Step by Step Guide

Written by Team Farallon

  • Farallon Law Corporation
  • February 8, 2022

Overview

If a loved one dies without leaving a will, his or her inheritance will be administered and dispersed according to Singapore’s intestacy rules, which are governed by the Intestate Succession Act (ISA) for non-Muslims and Muslim law for Muslims.

Introduction to Letters of Administration

A Letter of Administration is a legal document that appoints you as the executor of the estate of a deceased person who died in Singapore. Letters of Administration authorizes you to administer and distribute the estate per the Intestate Succession Act (ISA).

Those who apply to be the personal representatives of the deceased’s estate are known as personal representatives of the deceased’s estate, and the court order issued in such a scenario is known as the Letters of Administration (also known as the Grant of Letters of Administration).

If the deceased person left a will, you should normally apply for a Grant of Probate instead.

Why do you need a Letter of Administration?

When a person passes away, financial institutions in Singapore will not allow you to handle the assets of the estate without a Letter of Administration.

Generally, the banks, insurance companies, HDB, SLA and the Central Depository (where SGX shares are held) will not entertain any requests until you possess the Letter of Administration.

Who can and cannot apply for a Letter of Administration?

The Court may grant Letters of Administrations to the deceased’s spouse, next-of-kin, or any one of them individually or jointly according to Section 18 of the. Probate and Administration Act.

The ISA specifies seven classes of people who are eligible to apply for this grant, in declining order of priority. They belong to the departed’s:

  • Spouse;
  • Children;
  • Parents;
  • Siblings;
  • Nephews and nieces;
  • Grandparents; and
  • Aunts and uncles

If there are no survivors, the Government takes the estate back.

Minors (those under the age of 21) and people with mental illnesses are not permitted to serve as administrators. If the person who is eligible for a grant is a minor, the award will be made to his or her guardian.

In the same way, if a grant recipient is mentally ill, the grant will be made to the person who has been lawfully entrusted with the mentally ill person’s affairs.

How does the Administrator distribute the estate?

There are 9 steps in Section 7 of the ISA that govern how the estate is distributed. The order is mentioned as written above.

These rules do not apply to Muslims.

How many Administrators can be appointed?

The Court may appoint up to 4 Administrators.

If one or more of the estate’s beneficiaries is under the age of 21, at least two administrators or a trust corporation must be established.

When more than one administrator is appointed, they will work together to run the estate. This implies that they will have to act unanimously for every decision related to the estate being administered.

What if you do not wish to be an Administrator?

If you are one of the persons who are eligible to apply for, or who may become eligible for, a Grant of Letters of Administration but do not want to, you can renounce your right to do so.

You have the option to give up your right to apply for this grant, there are 2 ways to do so:

  • Orally (by you or your lawyer) at the Grant of Letters of Administration hearing; or
  • In writing (signed by you or your lawyer) and (attested by your lawyer or by any person before whom an affidavit may be sworn, such as a Commissioner for Oaths).

The person is required to fill up and sign the “Renunciation of beneficiaries with prior right” form (Form 53).

Important considerations before filing for a Letter of Administration

Before submitting a grant application, you should do the necessary checks to answer the following three questions:

  1. Is a Grant Required?
  2. Is it possible to transfer the assets straight to the beneficiaries?
  3. Is the estate worth more than S$50,000 in total?

You should check with the relevant institutions, such as HDB and banks where your loved ones’ funds have been deposited, to see if a grant application is required. Some assets are transferred or distributed without a grant (for example, CPF funds, flats held under joint tenancies, and certain types of insurance policies with nominations).

If your loved one died without leaving behind a will, you may apply to the Public Trustee to administer the estate. If the total value of the estate does not exceed S$50,000, then you would have to apply for a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration. You should also make the necessary enquiries to ascertain whether any foreign person is benefiting from an estate or interest in residential property. If so, such estate must be disposed of within 5 years from the date of death, as required under the Residential Property Act.

Possible complications faced when filing for a Letter of Administration

One common issue many administrators face is providing the death certificates of relevant beneficiaries who have passed away. While it is usually possible to obtain a certified death extract from the Immigration Checkpoint Authority, there are occasional cases where it is not possible to get the death extract. Another potential complication that can arise would be the discovery of a Will during the application for the Grant of Letters of Administration.

How to apply for a Letter of Administration

Preparation of required documents

Generally, if you are applying to be an Administrator of the estate left behind by the deceased, there is a need to fill up 2 forms:

Service Bureau Form for Application for Letters of Administration

This form is an application form with administrative details to fill in, such as the deceased and applicant’s details, to start the process of obtaining a Grant of Letters of Administration. This form is downloadable from the eLitigation webpage.

Schedule of Assets (Form 226)

This form sets out the deceased’s assets in Singapore and overseas, and any outstanding debts in Singapore secured by a mortgage. If you don’t know the full extent of the deceased’s assets, you will need to write to financial institutions to obtain information on these assets

Alongside these forms, there is also a list of required documents required:

  • The original death certificate.
  • The original copies of the NRICs and birth certificates of the beneficiaries.
  • The original death certificates of any deceased beneficiaries.
  • The original birth certificates of any children of deceased beneficiaries.
  • The original adoption papers and birth certificates of any adopted beneficiaries.
  • The original final judgments of divorce (if necessary).
  • Details and documents relating to the estate of the deceased.

It is also helpful to write to various financial institutions to check if the deceased had any assets there as well.

Searching existing caveats and probate applications on the estate

Bring all of your documents to the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau once they have been prepared. You will need to search the Service Bureau for current caveats and probate applications on the deceased’s estate, as well as existing claims to the authority to administer the estate.

The full and summary reports of the search must also be attached to your application.

Submit applications for the Grant of Letter of Administration

When you have finished searching for caveats and probate applications, it is time to submit all of your documents to the Service Bureau for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Your materials will be used by the Service Bureau to generate the following documents:

  • Originating summons
  • Probate statement
  • Schedule of Assets

If you are applying for the grant more than six months after the deceased’s death, explain why you did so.

It normally takes 1-3 weeks for the courts to accept your application once you submit it. If there are flaws in your application, the court will reject it and explain why. You will need to fix the mistakes and re-file the documents.

Once your application has been granted, you will receive an SMS notification, and you can return to the Service Bureau to pick up your authorized paperwork.

File the supporting Affidavit and Administration Oath

The Supporting Affidavit (Form 225) and Administration Oath must be prepared and filed next (Form 54). These documents must be sent within 14 days of your application’s submission.

You will affirm that the application’s details are correct in the Supporting Affidavit. The Administration Oath, on the other hand, requires you to swear that you will diligently administer the estate of the deceased. Both documents must be sworn or affirmed in front of an Oath Commissioner.

Preparation of the Schedule of Assets

With the Supporting Affidavit, the Schedule of Assets (Form 226) must be filed. You will have to write to banks, the CPF Board, and any other financial institutions to find out what assets the deceased possessed to fill out the Schedule of Assets.

After your application for the Grant of Letters of Administration has been accepted, you should write to these institutions. This is because most of these organizations will only provide you with information if you provide a certified true copy of the court-approved original summons.

It may take several weeks or months to receive responses from all financial institutions. If you cannot acquire all of the information from them by the deadline for filing the Supporting Affidavit and Administration Oath, file these two forms first, without the Schedule of Assets.

After you have heard from all of the financial institutions, you can file the entire Schedule of Assets, along with a supplementary affidavit that must also be sworn or affirmed in front of a Commissioner for Oaths.

The court should approve the Grant of Letters of Administration and issue you an “Order in Terms” if there are no concerns with the application. When you receive a letter from the court requesting that you withdraw the grant, you will know the outcome of your application.

Extract the Grant of Letter of Administration

You can request to extract the grant using the Request to Extract Grant form after the court provides the Grant of Letters of Administration. This can be found on the eLitigation webpage.

You will also need to perform a final caveat and probate search application search. The results of this search must be submitted along with your request for the grant to be extracted. You will receive the Grant of Letters of Administration after extracting the grant, which authorizes you to handle the deceased’s inheritance.

What if the deceased died overseas or was Muslim?

If the deceased died overseas

If the dead died while travelling abroad, you will need a death certificate from the foreign authorities, as well as an English translation of the death certificate that is not written in English.

If the deceased was Muslim

If the death was a Muslim who lived in Singapore and died without a will, the Administration of Muslim Law Act and Syariah law would apply instead.

The individual with the largest number of shares in the estate, according to the Inheritance Certificate, would be the one to file for the Grant of Letters of Administration and run the estate.

The Inheritance Certificate is a document that must be obtained from the Syariah Court before Letters of Administration can be granted.

Conclusion

Losing a loved one is a difficult time and the process to file for a Letter of Administration is also as complicated. It is recommended that you seek the legal advice of a lawyer proficient in these matters to help you.

 

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