After settling the funeral of my dad and residual customary Chinese rites, what my brother and I have to think about next is to get his will processed so that we can eventually manage his estate.
We must obtain a Grant of Probate to unlock and manage his estate.
In this post, I will explain how I obtained my Probate Grant.
What is a Grant of Probate?
An individual’s stuff is known as his or her estate. The estate is the economic valuation of an individual’s investments, assets and interests. This can include their belongings, physical and intangible assets, land and real estate, investments, collectables, and furnishings.
Someone or an entity needs to manage the estate when a person passes away.
This person is known as the executor. The executor is appointed to administer the last will and testament of a deceased person.
The executor will have to:
- Identify and collect the assets of the estate.
- Safeguard the assets in the meantime.
- Pay off any liabilities and taxes owed by the estate.
- Distribute the assets to the beneficiaries according to the will.
A Grant of Probate will legally recognise an individual as the executor of the deceased estate and allow the executor to manage the deceased’s stuff.
If you need to get access to the bank accounts and investment accounts, other than the death cert, the Grant of Probate is the most important.
The Grant of Probate is the route if the deceased has a will.
If the deceased does not have a will, the family members will need to go down the route to obtain a Letter of Administration. From what I understand, the assets will then be distributed based on Intestate Succession Act and will take longer.
You may also wish to distribute your assets in a way that differs from the Intestate Succession Act rules. If so, you may wish to do up a will.
After my mom passed away, I asked my dad whether he was open to doing up a will.
This is because I had a frightful experience unlocking the assets of my mom and I don’t want not to have peace of mind about that.
Luckily, my mom’s estate is less than $50,000, which allows me to unlock the monies via the Public Trustee.
For those interested, I detailed my unlocking experience via Public Trustee here: How to get My Deceased Family Member’s Money Out? (If the Sum is Less than $50,000). There are useful comments from contributors about their Letter of Administration experience as well.
Before my dad passed, one of the things my brother and I did was to run through a mental checklist to determine whether we would have a problem unlocking the money.
Selecting Yuen Law for Our Grant of Probate Process.
Initially, I wanted to explore if I could administer the Grant of Probate process myself.
If you know me, it would be ridiculous for me not to consider that versus the amount of cost that we could save. But as I look through the template, I just say “fxxk it. I am not going to do this myself.”
I decided to seek my big boss Chris for advice, who told me I could consider one of our partners at Yuen Law. The cost should be manageable if my dad’s estate is relatively simple.
I also consulted with my friend Chris to see how much the firm he was with at that time would quote.
Eventually, I went with Yuen Law.
I was briefed on the professional fees and estimated disbursements for a Grant of Probate for an estate of this complexity.
Eventually, I paid almost S$2,000 in total (professional, court and miscellaneous fees).
I exchanged money for professional competence and time I did not have, and Yuen Law delivered.
What stood out was their clear communication about the following:
- What documents and attention do I need to get ready?
- How is the full process like
- What will come next
- What have they done
Besides the technical sophistication, I do find that having clear communication, being personal and having good bedside manners to be important enough in the partners you choose.
How the Grant of Probate Process Went
Yuen Law gave me some ideas on how the entire process should go:
This looks pretty elaborate, but 90% of my involvement was through email or phone calls.
Before official engagement, they requested some information during their “pre-discovery” email.
What do they ask for:
- A copy of the will.
- Date my dad passed away.
- My dad’s domicile.
- What are the assets owned by my dad, and the aggregate value of the assets.
- Whether we obtain a Grant of Probate or Grant Letter of Administration in another jurisdiction.
This may allow them to size up the difficulty of work.
Fees that were quoted include:
- Professional fees for the Probate application
- Estimated disbursements for the Probate application (e.g. court fees, court documents, certified true copies of the original grant and death certificate, writing to the financial institution, affidavit preparations.)
For Yuen Law, they will only start work if the professional fees are paid first.
So I had to pay S$1,620 before any work done.
Will Not Witness by Advocate & Solicitor in Singapore
Based on their experience, if the Will was not witnessed by at least one advocate & solicitor in Singapore, the Court may direct me to file an Affidavit of Due Execution.
The Affidavit of Due Execution is a document for the two witnesses to be signed before a Commissioner to confirm that the decease understood what he was signing at the time of the Will signing.
Since my dad’s will fall into this situation, this is something that will have to be carried out. I did not understand what it meant to be signed before a commissioner. I thought that the witnesses for the will have to come down and sign something.
The associate that works with me Si Xuan explain that it is just a signing of a document call Affidavit, by me, in the presence of someone and the witnesses do not have to be around.
First Stage – Draft papers and 1st Check-in Call
Yuen Law drafted the following:
- Statement. Contains the particulars of myself as the applicant and my late father.
- Admin Oath. Make an oath/affirm (depending on whether you are a Christian or not) that you will pay off all the just debts, and testamentary and funeral expenses of the deceased before faithfully distributing the remaining assets in accordance with Singapore law (i.e., according to the deceased’s Will).
- Originating summons. The order you are applying for in court i.e., the Grant of Probate to be granted to you.
After reviewing the documents and letting them know the documents were more or less correct, a call was arranged for Yuen Law to validate that I was doing the right thing.
First Meeting at Yuen Law’s Office
The first meeting is to sign the Admin Oath and bring in the Original Will and my NRIC for verification.
I would have to sign the Admin Oath in the presence of the Commissioner for Oaths.
I will leave my Original Will with Yuen Law.
This meeting was pretty fast.
Submitting the Documents to the Court and Affidavit
Yuen Law will help me draft, compile and submit the documents to the court.
After the document is submitted, we will have to file the supporting Affidavit within the next two weeks.
The Supporting Affidavit will include:
- The Statement (with the Court seal)
- The Schedule of Assets under the Estate
- The Certified True Copies of the Will and Death Certificate.
The lawyers at Yuen Law were able to draft the Supporting Affidavit with the schedule of assets I provided.
I reviewed a draft of the Supporting Affidavit sent via email and would need a second in-person visit to sign it.
Second Meeting at Yuen Law’s Office
The second meeting is more to sign the Supporting Affidavit in the presence of the Commissioner.
What happens next
After signing the Supporting Affidavit, the lawyers at Yuen Law will help file my Supporting Affidavit in Court. The Court may take up to two weeks to process the document. . If the Court is satisfied with your application, the Court will let us know of the outcome on or before the hearing fixed on 30 March 2023.
Yuen Law will help me attend, and I do not have to step into Court.
Grant of Probate Successfully Granted
Yuen Law will inform me that the Court granted my application.
Yuen Law will help file a Request for Extraction of the Grant. The Court will usually take up to two weeks to process the request. Once the Court accepts the Request, the Court will let us know when the Grant will be ready for collection. We will then make the necessary arrangements to collect the physical grant.
After the Grant of Probate was physically secured, I made a second payment for the court fees of $378.
Someone from Yuen Law personally delivers the Grant of Probate in person to me.
That ended the whole process.
Timeline of the whole process in greater detail
The diagram below is the full timeline of how the whole process go:
In total, it took more than two months to secure the Grant of Probate.
How You May Be Able to Secure Your Grant of Probate Cheaper
So on the same day that I received my Grant of Probate, I received word from my big boss Chris that someone informed him of a Government Probate service that would assist in the Probate process.
That feels like I could have saved a lot of money!
Suffice to say, Tuesday was a weird day because I was unsure whether to feel happy or sad about the two things that happened that day.
Singapore Judiciary Gov site recently launched a Probate eService that allows a named sole executor to apply for a Grant of Probate.
The eService will assist the sole executor in preparing and submitting the required probate documents to the court.
This Probate eService is useful if:
- You are above 21 years old
- Named the sole executor of the will
- The deceased is a Singaporean or a Singapore PR
- Deceased was domiciled in Singapore at the time of death.
- Passed away in Singapore
- Passed away after 15 February 2008
- Not a Muslim religion
- Have a total estimated estate value of not more than $2 million Singapore dollars.
That basically is my very own situation.
You can find out more information here.
For those who know of friends who has a loved one that passed away, some of what I presented may be useful for them and you might want to share my article to help them.
I do think that they should at least know about the Probate eService whether their estate is more or less than S$2 million.
I want to thank the folks at Yuen Law for helping me with my Grant of Probate.
With this, I can finally start administering my dad’s estate.
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