What is a Grant of Letters of Administration

A Grant of Letters of Administration legally recognises an applicant as the administrator of the deceased's estate. The appointed individual manages the deceased's property. This includes distributing the estate to the beneficiaries after payment of the deceased's debts and other expenses.

Note

There are different types of applications for letters of administration. This website only covers the process for cases where the deceased did not leave a valid will and the applicant is a beneficiary entitled to a share of the estate.

If you wish to apply for other types of letters of administration, you may wish to seek legal advice.

If the deceased left a valid will appointing you as the executor to manage their estate, refer to Grant of Probate.

Who is a beneficiary

If the deceased has not left a valid will, the estate will be distributed in accordance with:

If you are entitled to a share of the deceased's estate, you are a beneficiary.

Who has priority to apply

A beneficiary's priority to apply for a grant of letters of administration is usually determined by the size of their entitlement to the deceased's estate. Individuals with a larger entitlement have a higher priority. The spouse of the deceased generally has priority to apply for a grant of letters of administration.

Beneficiaries with lower priority may:

  • Apply together with persons who have prior right.
  • Make the application after obtaining the renunciation of the persons with prior right. Renunciation means to give up one's right to apply.

Refer to the following table to understand the division of non-Muslim estates (under the Intestate Succession Act).

Beneficiary who will inherit

Share of estate

Only spouse

100%.

Spouse, with children and descendants of deceased children

Spouse: 50%.

Children and descendants of deceased children: 50% divided equally by the number of children.

Note: The descendants of a deceased child will inherit their parent's share.

Children and descendants of deceased children (no spouse)

100% divided equally by the number of children.

Note: The descendants of a deceased child will inherit their parent's share.

Spouse and parents (no children or descendants of deceased children)

Spouse: 50%.

Parents: 50% divided equally by the number of people.

Only parents

100% divided equally by the number of people.

Only siblings and children of deceased siblings

100% divided equally by the number of siblings.

Note: The children of a deceased sibling will inherit their parent's share.

Only grandparents

100% divided equally by the number of people.

Only aunts and uncles

100% divided equally by the number of people.

None of the above

100% to the government.

Note: Children and descendants of deceased children include both legitimate children and children adopted through a court order made in Singapore, Malaysia or Brunei Darussalam. A legitimate child is born to parents who are married to each other (the marriage could have been either before or after the birth).

The distribution of Muslim estates will be in accordance with the Inheritance Certificate issued by the Syariah Court.

Before applying for a grant

Before you apply for a grant, find out:

  • What assets there are.
    • Some assets like money in the deceased's Central Provident Fund (CPF) account, immovable property held under a joint tenancy with no outstanding mortgage, and some insurance policies with nominations may be distributed without a grant.
  • The value of the assets.
  • If any foreign person is entitled to an estate or interest in residential property.
    • If so, the estate or interest must be transferred to the beneficiaries or sold within 5 years from the date of death, as required under the Residential Property Act.

Apply for letters of administration step-by-step

This is the process of filing an application for letters of administration for cases where all of the following applies:

  • The deceased did not leave a valid will.
  • You are a beneficiary entitled to a share of the estate.
  • You are at least 21 years old and do not lack mental capacity.

Note: For other types of letters of administration cases, you may wish to seek legal advice.

When filing

File an application for a Grant of Letters of Administration

Find out the documents you need to prepare and the steps to file for a Grant of Letters of Administration.

After filing

File the supporting documents

After filing the application, you will need to file the supporting documents. If your submissions are in order, the court may grant the application without a hearing.

(If needed) Attend a probate hearing

You may need to attend court in some cases, for example if your documents are incomplete.

After an order is made

Extract the grant

The court will issue the Grant of Letters of Administration. You will receive a notice from the court to extract the grant.

File an application, if needed

If you are not satisfied with a decision made by the court, you may file an appeal.

2021/07/23
Note
You may choose to file the application yourself or engage a lawyer. Find out where to get help.

Resources

Refer to the Probate and Administration Toolkit (PDF, 1199 KB).

Related questions

You will need to sign a renunciation document before a lawyer or a Commissioner for Oaths.This is a document that confirms you are giving up your right to apply for letters of administration. Prepare the document according to Form 53 of the FJC Practice Directions.
If you have an interest in the estate and you do not wish for a grant to be issued to the individual who filed the letters of administration application, you may wish to seek legal advice. Find out where to get help.

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