Losing a loved one is an emotionally challenging time, and the process of handling their estate can add to the stress. In Singapore, the Grant of Probate plays a crucial role in the administration of a deceased person’s estate. It is vital to understand what the Grant of Probate is and how it works to ensure a smooth transition of assets and liabilities.
In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about Grant of Probate.
What is Grant of Probate?
The Grant of Probate, which is a court order, authorises the executor(s) and trustee(s), if appropriate, to carry out the instructions set forth in the will, including distributing the deceased’s assets to his designated beneficiaries. If you die without a will, instead of it being called a Grant of Probate, it will be called Grant of Letters of Administration.
In very limited circumstances, such as when the estate’s value is less than $50,000 and no outstanding debts or liabilities are involved, one may choose to opt for the Public Trustee to administer the estate rather than obtaining a Grant of Probate. Do note that CPF monies are dealt separately from the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration.
Importance of Grant of Probate
A Grant of Probate is essential for the following reasons:
1. Legal Authority
It gives the executor(s) the authority to administer the deceased’s estate, making sure that assets are divided in accordance with the terms of the will or the intestacy laws. It also gives the executor(s) the legal authority to deal with third parties such as banks.
2. Clear Title
It ensures that properties and assets can be transferred by the executor(s) on behalf of the deceased’s estate with a clear and marketable title. A buyer of the property belonging to the deceased would require that the title be transferred by an executor(s) who is named as the executor(s) in the Grant of Probate.
What happens when a will wasn’t written?
In situations where the deceased did not leave behind a will, the responsibility falls upon their next-of-kin to request a Grant of Letters of Administration for the management of the deceased’s affairs. However, it is essential to understand that the distribution of the deceased’s assets will be determined by intestacy laws, which might not necessarily reflect the deceased’s specific wishes or intentions. The process is slightly more complex and will generally take longer to obtain than a Grant of Probate.
How long will the process take?
In Singapore, a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration can typically be obtained within the span of 1 to 6 months, if the probate remains uncontested.
In an uncontested probate scenario, where no disputes (contentious probate) arise regarding the will’s validity or the executor’s authority, the process will proceed smoothly and swiftly.
However, in cases involving a multitude of assets that need thorough identification and location, it may take longer to obtain the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration.
Is appointing an attorney necessary?
Appointing a probate litigation attorney in Singapore is advisable unless the estate’s value is small and is uncomplicated. It is typically advisable for individuals to seek the guidance of a probate lawyer to ensure that all the necessary documents are in proper order. This proactive step facilitates a swift and efficient process.
Individuals and lawyers abroad, for example in Hong Kong and Malaysia, appoint a probate litigation attorney in Singapore to re-seal the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration in Singapore when the deceased had assets in Singapore such as shares in public listed companies or properties that need to be sold and distributed to the beneficiaries.
Navigating the Grant of Probate process can be complex, especially during a difficult time of grieving. Nonetheless, understanding the importance of a Grant of Probate and the steps involved can help streamline the process and ensure that the deceased’s wishes are respected.
If you require legal assistance, it is advisable to consult with experienced professionals. The team at DC Law LLC can provide expert guidance and support to help you through this challenging process, ensuring that your loved one’s estate and assets are managed in accordance with the law and their wishes.
We also act for law firms and clients based in Hong Kong who need to have the Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration from Hong Kong re-sealed in Singapore. This is often necessary when the deceased had assets in Singapore, typically in the form of shares in public listed companies.
Reach out to us today for more information.