Grant of Letters of Administration

As mentioned from the previous article – If a person passes away without leaving behind a will, the grant that will be extracted is known as the Grant of Letter of Administration.

For a Grant of Letter of Administration, more time is taken for this process as the family has to decide who the administrator should be and sometimes, for the next-of-kin to sign the Renunciation.

The distribution of the estate will be according to the laws of the Intestate Succession Act (ISA), and the most suitable person will be granted Letter of Administration by the court to distribute the estate according to the rules in the ISA.

There is another scenario called the Grant of Letter of Administration with Will annexed. It simply means that the deceased created a will but neglected to name an executor. The deceased could also have appointed an executor, but the named executor either refuses to do the job or passes on as well at the time of the deceased’s death. This grant given by the court is known as the grant of Letters of Administration with Will annexed.


Below are some commonly asked questions about the grant of letters of administration.

Who is entitled to be appointed as an Administrator?

When an application for a grant of letter of administration is made, the court is empowered to appoint whomever it thinks ought to be granted the letters of administration.

The law sets out seven classes of persons who are entitled. In order of priority, these are:

  1. The spouse;
  2. The children of the deceased;
  3. The parents;
  4. Brothers and sisters;
  5. Nephews and nieces;
  6. Grandparents; and
  7. Uncles and aunts.

A grant of letters of administration cannot be taken out by minors (below the age of 21), persons suffering from any physical or mental incapacity preventing them from performing the functions of an administrator and persons currently imprisoned.

Distribution of assets of minors under the age of 21

Under Singapore law, the Court for the Grant of Letters of Administration with any beneficiaries under the age of 21 requires additional steps to be taken to protect the minor beneficiaries. The steps are:

  1. appoint a Co-Administrator to be a co-applicant; and
  2. have the Co-Administrator find a person to stand as surety to the Court for the value of the estate (A surety plays a similar role to a guarantor in the context of a scholarship, i.e. to be financially responsible should the Administrators fail to discharge their duties, thus causing the minor beneficiaries to suffer a loss.)
  3. If a surety cannot be obtained, a further application to Court for a dispensation of sureties is required.


How do you apply for Grant of Letters of Administration?

The primary documents required to apply for letters of administration are:

  1. Certified true copy of death certificate (Religion of the deceased – for Muslims, also indicate his Mazhab)
  2. Enumeration of persons surviving the deceased – disclosure of all person entitled to any part of the estate is required. For children, the name, sex, age or date of birth of the child should be disclosed.
  3. Full name, IC number and contact number of next-of-kin applying for the court order;
  4. Schedule of Assets providing details of assets owned by the deceased.

Schedule of Assets is a supporting document that lists out all the assets of the deceased’s estate and is an addendum to the supporting affidavit that has to be filed when making the application for a Grant.


How long does it take to obtain a Grant of Letter of administration?

The preparation and execution of the necessary documents usually take between 2 – 4 weeks.

It will take another 4 – 6 weeks for the application to be examined by court staff and provided that the documents are in order, the grant of letters of administration will be issued.

However, do note that when “Schedule of Assets”  is not available, one additional month is required to complete the process.  

That said, obtaining either a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration may not be necessary depending on the size of the estate. For example, if the deceased had only a trivial amount remaining in his or her bank account, the bank may permit withdrawal of the balance without a grant.


Where do you apply for Letters of Administration?

It depends on the total value of the deceased’s estate:

  1. Less than $5 million – the Family Courts
  2. More than $5 million – the Family Division of the High Court

Do you need a lawyer for Letters of Administration?

Due to the complex process, where there are many forms to be filed, it is advisable to hire a lawyer.

How can a lawyer assist in this process?

By engaging a lawyer, it can help reduce the added stress in submitting the right forms and documents while mourning the death of your loved ones.

A lawyer generally

  1. Helps the executor/family member to be appointed as the official representative of the deceased by applying for a Grant of Probate and Grant of Letter of Administration.
  2. Helps prepare Court documents or executor or administrator to sign before submission.


Fees for Grant of Letters of Administration

For letters of administration, it typically costs around $1,500.

The main differences between a Grant of Probate and a Grant of Letters of Administration

Grant of ProbateGrant of Letters of Administration
1.Apply for a Grant of Probate when there is a valid will, and there are named executor(s) who are willing to administer the estate of the deceased.Apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration when there is no will involved or no named executor is willing to administer the estate of the deceased.
2.Issued to the executor(s) named in the will.Usually issued to the spouse or the next-of-kin of the deceased.