Letters of Administration
A Grant of Letters of Administration is a document issued to whoever administers the estate of someone who passes away without leaving a valid Will. It is granted by the Family Court, and the administrator is usually the deceased’s next of kin.
When is a Grant of Letter of Administration needed?
You need one when someone who owns assets dies intestate (without a valid Will).
After death, someone needs to collect their assets and make sure they’re distributed to the beneficiaries. If they left a valid Will, a probate lawyer will obtain a Grant of Probate for you from the court. If there was no Will, the lawyer will get Letters of Administration instead, allowing the deceased’s assets to pass to the rightful person and be dealt with according to the Intestate Succession Act.
The legislation which governs Letters of Administration is the Probate and Administration Act, and the Intestate Succession Act.
Who may apply for Letters of Administration?
The people who can apply for Letters of Administration when someone dies intestate are listed below, in order of priority:
- The deceased’s spouse
- Their children
- Their parents
- Their siblings (brothers and sisters)
- Their nieces and nephews
- Their grandparents
- Their aunts and uncles
The spouse gets priority in terms of who applies for Letters of Administration. But sometimes, the person who gets priority may not want to have the job of administering the deceased’s estate. For instance, the spouse might be abroad or unwell or want their children to make the application for Letters of Administration. If this happens, then the spouse is said to have ‘renounced’ the right to be the administrator in favour of one of the children.
If one or more beneficiaries are younger than 21 years old, then at least two administrators must be appointed.
Unsurprisingly, infants and bankrupts are not allowed to be appointed as administrators.
Under a Letter of Administration, how are assets distributed?
If a Will exists, then the deceased’s assets are distributed according to that. If not, then under section 7 of the Intestate Succession Act, the assets must be distributed as follows:
- A deceased person who has a spouse but no children or parents: Everything passes to the spouse.
- A deceased person with a spouse and children: Half the assets pass to the spouse and half to the children, in equal proportions.
- A deceased person who has children but no spouse: The assets are shared equally between the children.
- The deceased has a spouse, and parents but no children: Half is given to the spouse, with the remaining half shared equally between the parents.
- The deceased has parents, but no spouse or children: everything passes to the parents in equal shares.
- The deceased has siblings, but no spouse, parents or children: the siblings (or children of the deceased siblings) get everything shared equally.
- The deceased has grandparents (but no spouse, children, parents or siblings or children of deceased siblings): everything passes to the grandparents in equal shares.
- The deceased had only aunts and uncles (but no spouse, children, siblings, or children of deceased siblings, or grandparents): then the aunts and uncles receive everything in equal shares.
- The deceased had no living relatives at all: everything passes to the government.
For reference, below is the full wording taken from the Intestate Succession Act:
If an intestate dies, leaving a surviving spouse, no issue and no parent, the spouse shall be entitled to the whole of the estate.
If an intestate dies, leaving a surviving spouse and issue, the spouse shall be entitled to one-half of the estate.
Subject to the rights of the surviving spouse, if any, the estate (both as to the undistributed portion and the reversionary interest) of an intestate who leaves issue shall be distributed by equal portions per stirpes to and amongst the children of the person dying intestate and such persons as legally represent those children, in case any of those children be then dead.
Proviso No. (1) — The persons who legally represent the children of an intestate are their descendants and not their next‑of‑kin.
Proviso No. (2) — Descendants of the intestate to the remotest degree stand in the place of their parent or another ancestor and take according to their stocks the share which they would have taken.
If an intestate dies, leaving a surviving spouse and no issue but a parent or parents, the spouse shall be entitled to one-half of the estate and the parent or parents to the other half of the estate.
If there are no descendants, the intestate’s parent or parents shall take the estate, in equal portions if there are 2 parents, subject to the surviving spouse’s rights (if any) as provided in rule 4.
If there are no surviving spouse, descendants or parents, the brothers and sisters and children of deceased brothers or sisters of the intestate shall share the estate in equal portions between the brothers and sisters. The children of any deceased brother or sister shall take according to their stocks the share which the deceased brother or sister would have taken.
If there are no surviving spouse, descendants, parents, brothers and sisters or children of such brothers and sisters but grandparents of the intestate, the grandparents shall take the whole estate in equal portions.
If there are no surviving spouse, descendants, parents, brothers and sisters or their children or grandparents but uncles and aunts of the intestate, the uncles and aunts shall take the whole estate in equal portions.
In default of distribution under rules 1 to 8, the Government shall be entitled to the whole of the estate.
How much does a Grant of Letters of Administration usually cost?
Court fees for the application typically amount to between $300 and $600.
PKWA Law fees for applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration are $1,500 (not including disbursements and GST).
Filing fees and disbursements in cases where assets are below $5 million:
- Probate Search – $50.00
- Oath Fees – $240.00
- Statement – $5.60
- Death Certificate – $4.80
- Ex-parte Originating Summons – $87.20
- Schedule of Assets – $5.60
- Consent of Co-Administrator – $31.20
- Supporting Affidavit – $12.80
- Affidavit – $17.20
- Summons for Dispensation of Sureties – $27.20
- Order of Court – $55.60
- Administrative Bond – $105.60
- Request for Extraction of Grant – $42.20
Total: S$685 (approximate)
How soon will I get a letter of Administration?
A lawyer can usually obtain a grant of letter of administration within 4 weeks, and sometimes even quicker, in about 2 weeks. We can advise you on likely timescales.
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