Kith & Kin

Common problems you may face during the probate process

man looking down because of problems in probate process

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

Even after carefully writing your will and planning your estate in meticulous detail, a lot of things may still go wrong during the probate process.

Probate can be a lengthy and costly legal procedure and at times it is best to know how do you avoid probate. However, in cases that it is necessary, it is important for you, as the testator to understand the probate statutes to ensure that your beneficiaries receive their share of your estate.

Here are the most common problems your beneficiaries may face during the probate process, and some tips on how to avoid them.

1. The will could not be found

In order for your executor to apply for a Grant of Probate from the courts, they will need the will. If they do not have it with them, the best place for them to search would be in the Wills Registry which is maintained by the Singapore Academy of Law. They can also seek out the lawyer who may have helped you in drafting the will.

If the original will cannot be located, the probate law in Singapore allows the submission of a copy or draft of the will until the original will is found. Otherwise, the laws on intestacy will apply, and it will be as if you have not written a will at all.

2. The executor declines to fulfil their role

Aside from applying for probate, the executor carries with them key responsibilities such as locating your assets and beneficiaries, paying off taxes, debts and creditors, distributing your property and wrapping up your affairs.

The role entails a lot of work and for this reason, your chosen executor may not want to fulfil the role you have given them. In other cases, an executor may act unjustly based on his own self-interests, which is another reason that deems them unfit for the tasks.

If for example, you are not the named executor and you are asking ‘Can i apply for grant of probate myself?’, note that it is the court who will have to appoint another person as executor.

This will cause a considerable delay to the probate procedure, so it is essential that you choose the right person as executor as you are writing your will. Advise them of the tasks and of your expectations. You may also name additional executors that would take the place of your first choice should they decide not to accept the responsibility.

3. The will is contested

It is not uncommon for arguments among family members or beneficiaries to occur during the probate process. While this can happen in any case, it is especially true when your estate contains significant assets and you have complex family arrangements.

Certain parties may dispute the validity of your will and challenge whether it truly reflects your wishes. You will then have to rely on your executor to present alternative evidence that shows your will is binding and enforceable under the probate law.

To reduce tension among family members, you have the option of hiring a probate lawyer to act as your executor.  This person will be able to act professionally and without bias towards any of your family members or beneficiaries.

4. The probate assets could not be found

For the assets to be distributed, your executor must be able to locate them. If they cannot be found, it will only cause delays in the transfer of ownership. This can be avoided by ensuring you provide complete information regarding your assets at the time of will writing.

5. Not addressing creditors properly

During the probate process, creditors may make costly claims and these have to be paid out of your estate. It is therefore important for your executor to keep accurate records to determine not only the validity of the claims but also to ensure timely payments for your creditors.

Waiting too long to begin the probate process might only make creditors become more aggressive. It can also cause accumulation of more debts and taxes for the estate. To prevent this from happening, you can ask the help of professionals like an accountant or probate lawyer to administer to your estate.

Can I apply for grant of probate myself?

Whether you are planning to write your will or you are the executor asking yourself ‘Can I apply for grant of probate myself?’ it is essential to have an understanding of grant of probate meaning and statutes.

For most cases and especially in complex scenarios, it is best to consult with a probate lawyer.

Here at Kith & Kin Law Corporation, we offer expert advice on Grant of Probate Singapore to assist you on the best approach for your unique circumstances and needs.

If you would like to review specific problems that may arise for your estate during the probate process, schedule a consultation with us so we can provide further assistance.