The executor, the appointed personal representive of the deceased, named in the Will has to apply for a Grant of Probate to legally distribute a deceased’s assets. This is a Court order which will allow the executor to administer the estate of the deceased.
The executor is required to do the following :
- Applying to Court for grant of probate.
- Identifying and locating all the assets of the deceased.
- Paying the deceased’s creditors and other professioanl's fees from funds out of the assets of the deceased.
- If there is any remaining asset after payments are made to creditors, the executor will distribute the remaining assets to the deceased’s beneficiaries.
- Making funeral arrangements for the deceased, though it's commonly arranged by the close family members.
Depending on the value or complexity of the estate, engaging a legal adviser might be the most appropriate option.
The probate lawyer can help an executor:
- Verify the original Will at the Probate Counter, Registry of the Family Justice Court.
- Present court papers to extract the Grant of Probate. Documents include originating summons, supporting affidavit and schedule of assets.
The executor may receive the Grant of Probate within a month of filing the last court document.
The whole process may take 3 to 6 months!
As for which Court to apply to, generally, estates with assets of less than $3 million fall under the jurisdiction of the Family Justice Courts. Estates of a higher value fall under the Family Division of the High Court. The appointed probate lawyer will know exactly what to do and could shorten the “learning curve”, especially the grieving family would not want to have further dealy in their wealth distribution.
The process might be even longer when the deceased’s without a Will. In this case, the administration process would required more checks and verification and personal guarantor know as surety. The security shall be by administrative bond in the amount equivalent to the gross value of the estate. It's pretty cerain that it is not easy to find "freinds" to the the guarantor fo the estate.
To apply for the Grant of Probate, the executor will need the following documents:
- Original death certificate of the deceased
- Original Will of the deceased
- The deceased’s marriage certificate (if any)
- Original death certificates of next of kin who have passed on
- Original death certificate of executor who may have passed on
- Children’s identity cards and birth certificates
- Schedule of Assets, etc.
So without proper documentation and not knowing exactly where to retrerive these important documents, it can cause further unnecessary delay!
How about the muslim community?
Briefly, an applicant for Letters of Administration involving a Muslim estate has to apply online for an Inheritance Certificate from the Syariah Court specifying the beneficiaries of the estate and their respective shares of the estate.
Chew Hock Beng is a Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Financial Consultant, Chartered Life Underwriter & Chartered Family Office Specialist. He has community involvement experience and has held appointments like Honorary Treasurer & Exam Board Chair with Financial Planning Association of Singapore (FPAS), Education Sub-committee with IFPAS, PSG Chairman. Hock Beng is a certified IBF instructor with Financial Perspectives and an Adjunct Trainer with Falco Academy. Currently he is managing a team of independent financial adviser representatives, providing training, mentoring & coaching.