Letters of Administration / Probate - DIY application

It's been almost 2 months since my mum's passing. I have not had the mood to blog as there's simply too much for me to settle - both tangible and intangible stuff. 

For the first month, there's like a void in my life that I couldn't get used to because I was so used to the daily routine of taking care of her. It felt like a boulder lifted off my shoulder, as I was near breaking point; but this boulder was not gone, instead it shifted to my heart. The passing was sudden but not unexpected. My mum's condition deteriorated rapidly after her last fall, which led to hospitalization, and every hospitalization made her more frail. On the last discharge she could barely sit up in bed.

My mum did not leave behind a will because she did not see a need to at that time when she still had a clear state of mind. Without a will, I would need to apply for the Grant of Letters of Administration (instead of a Grant of Probate) in order to administer her Estates.

(Note: If there's a will, one would need to apply for the Letters of Probate.)

Image credit: Scott Graham on Unsplash

I was browsing around to see what's the lowest rate for getting a lawyer to settle that. For an uncomplicated case, the minimum cost that I found was $950.

I then searched and found this gov website https://www.judiciary.gov.sg/family/how-to-file-grant-of-letters-of-administration which demonstrated the steps of filing for a Grant of Letters of Administration. It is stated that one can do filing without a lawyer by filling a form at the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau (at State Courts level 2), so I decided to book an appointment to do the filing myself, thus saving the lawyer fees.

At the Resource section, right at the bottom of the webpage, there's a toolkit that one can download in order to have a look at all the forms.

Things you need to take note of before filing

- You need to ensure you have the list of assets of deceased and the value of all the assets if you want to file the "Schedule of Assets" form on the same day. (Recommended to do so, otherwise you will need to raise a separate affidavit for it later.) Property value can be estimated (no need valuer) from the recent market transactions.

- You will need details of all the beneficiaries.

- You need to ensure all the documents required, eg. death certs, are Certified True Copies, unless they are the newer versions that come with QR code. 

I paid $40 to apply for the Digital Death Extract of my father via the ICA website, instead of going to the lawyer to get it certified (not sure if that's the cheaper way but it saved me some foot work).

If everything is in order and accepted by the Court, you will be notified by SMS to collect the documents which bear the case number at LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau. No appointment is needed for document collection.

Next step is to file the Supporting Affidavit and Administration Oath.

This step posed a bit of a challenge. If you file them yourself, you will need to obtain the hard copy templates from LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureau and transcribe them via Word doc. The softcopies that I got from the website looked quite different, so I used the hard copy versions provided by the Service Bureau, which should be most updated. (If you want the Word doc templates, buy me a kopi on Ko-Fi and I can email to you.)

After I have printed out the two sets of documents and inserted all the "Exhibits" in the Supporting Affidavit, I brought them to a registered Commissioner to confirm on oath (in layman terms - get them chopped and signed to prove I swear truth of the contents). Usually the law firms that have in-house Commissioner for Oath will indicate behind their company names on the storey directory board. If you want to find out from online, you can go to this website https://legalisation.sal.sg/Directory.

The rates are standardized, $25 for each document type and $5 per exhibit. So the total I paid to the Commissioner for Oath was $65.

Once that's done, I booked an appointment to the Service Bureau to request for filing with the case number. It usually takes about a week to get the notification if the docs are accepted and another week to know the outcome.

On grant of the Letters of Administration, you will be notified to collect them at the Service Bureau if hard copies are requested.

The whole process would take about one to two months if submissions are smooth and the case is straightforward. Should your case be more complex (eg. involving minor beneficiaries), then it might be better for you to seek a probate lawyer. It might be possible to do it yourself too, just that it takes a lot of effort for paperwork and footwork to the Service Bureau.

Disclaimer: This post is a sharing of experience and does not constitute legal advice.

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  1. Sorry to hear that your mother has passed away. It is sad but as a caregiver, I believe it is also a relief for you. Take care.


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