Domicile means the country or state (as the case may be) where a person intends to make his permanent or ultimate home. It need not be his country of birth, his current place, his current nationality or the place he died in, and his Domicile status may change from time to time when his intentions changed.
When a person dies, it is important to determine his Domicile, as it is where the probate process is to be obtained in relation to the Deceased’s estate.
There are various factors which can determine a Deceased’s Domicile, including but not limited to:-
- whether he has purchased any real property (real estate) in the country for his home
- whether his family is living with him in that place/country prior to his death
- his nationality and place of permanent residence
- the length of time that he has lived in a country
Prior to the extraction of the Grant of Letters of Administration (including for Resealing of Letters of Administration cases), the Court may require the Administrator(s) (“the Applicant”) to provide 2 sureties for the Court’s consideration.
A surety is someone who is responsible or liable for the action or conduct of the Administrator(s).
Generally, the following particulars of the proposed sureties (Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents only) and their respective assets need to be furnished:-
(a) full names of the sureties, they should not be standing as a guarantor or surety for any other matters
(b) relationship of the sureties to the Applicants, and they should not be beneficiaries of the estate
(c) list of assets of each surety:-
- money in bank – to state which bank and to provide copies of the latest bank statements;
- private property – to state if the property is in sole or joint ownership and provide supporting documents. If propery is held in joint tenancy, all joint tenants are to be included as sureties. Protected property under section 51 of the Housing & Development Board Act (Cap. 129) is not to be used for the purpose of justification;
- shares – to provide statement; and
- any other assets – to provide supporting documents.
If the proposed sureties are accepted by the Court, the Applicant will need to file the Affidavit of Justification.
Alternatively, if the Applicant is unable to provide 2 sureties, then an application may be made for dispensation of sureties to the Court, and the Applicant needs to comply with the relevant practice directions of the Courts (para. 119 of the Practice Directions of the Subordinate Courts).
Under Intestate law, the following persons are entitled to apply to be appointed as the Administrator(s) of the deceased’s estate in order of priority:
- spouse (husband or wife)
- issues (lawful children)
- brothers or sisters
- issues of brothers or sisters
- uncles or aunts
In simple cases, the following additional documents are required:-
- Consent of the Co-Administrator, if any
- Renunciation of the Beneficiaries having a prior right to apply for Letters of Administraton, if any
The following additional documents are required:
- the original Will
- where the Will is not written in English, a certified true translation by a person competent to translate
- renunciations by person(s) appointed Executor(s) under the Will but who do not wish to be the Executor(s), if any.
If a foreign domiciled person dies intestate:
- his movable property that is located in Singapore will be distributed according to the laws of the country in which he was domiciled at the time of his death
- his immovable property located in Singapore will be distributed according to the laws of Singapore, regardless of where he was domiciled at the time of his death.
The Court requires the following documents (not exhaustive) to be submitted for the initial application, namely:
- Originating Summons (Probate)
- Statement of Probate
- Administration Oaths by the Applicant
- original extract of the deceased’s Death Certificate
- Caveat Search Certificate.
If the deceased made a valid will in which there is an effective appointment of executors, the will authorises the executors to act in the estate and the deceased’s assets vest in the executors at the date of death. Therefore, technically, an executor could administer an estate without a grant but, in practice, he needs a grant to prove title in court.
If the deceased did not make a will or there is a will but not an effective appointment of executors, the person intending to act as personal representative is referred to as an “administrator” but he has no authority until the court issues the grant to him.
In theory, it is possible to make your own application for either a Singapore Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or Memorandum of Resealing without the assistance of a Lawyer.
However, in practice, as the Grant of Probate, Letters of Administration or Memorandum of Resealing entails legal procedures and issues, it is advisable to engage a Lawyer who is experienced in Probate matters to assist you.
A grant of representation is required to prove the authority of those entitled to act as personal representative (either as executor or administrator) and administer the estate. This proof establishes the personal representative’s title to the assets of the estate, so enabling the personal representative to collect in and deal with those assets.
Upon the death of a person, called a deceased, the Personal Representatives of the deceased will need to apply for a Grant of Probate (if there is a Will) or Grant of Letters of Administration (in Intestacy) that will authorise them to deal with and distribute the deceased’s assets.