What Are The Roles And Duties Of Executors In Singapore?

What Are The Roles And Duties Of Executors In Singapore?


If you have consented to be the executor, or one of the executors of a Will, you will need to know what your role and duties are. Being an executor of a Will comes with its fair share of responsibilities. After the passing of the deceased, the Will has to be executed in a timely manner, according to the law, and according to the wishes of the deceased.

What Exactly Is An Executor?

An executor is also known as the personal representative of a person who has made a Will (the testator). In the Will, the testator usually appoints one or more people (executors) to carry out his/her last wishes after they have passed on.

Usually, the executor is the person/persons that the testator feels he/she can trust and that are capable of honouring the directions of the Will. As such, executors tend to have close ties to the testator, such as the spouse, children or close friends of the testator. In certain scenarios, the testator may prefer to have a professional executor handle his estate instead of a layperson.

What Happens If You Do Not Wish To Be An Executor

There can be many reasons why someone would not wish to be an executor. An executor takes on a lot of responsibilities and not everyone may have the capacity to handle this responsibility.

Fortunately, Section 13 of the Probate and Administration Act provides a solution:-

  • If you are one of the executors named in the Will, you may renounce your right to being an executor and let another named executor apply for the Grant of Probate, and administer the estate of the deceased person.
  • If you are the sole executor named in the Will, you may choose to renounce your right as an executor. Another person who has the prior right to administer the estate (under the intestate Succession Act) of the deceased person will then apply for a Letters of Administration with Will annexed, to administer the estate of the deceased in your place.

Who Can Be An Executor?

Anyone above the age of 21 may be appointed as an executor in a Will.

It is possible to for children below the age of 21 to be included as executors in a Will. If the child has reached the age of 21 by the time of the passing of the testator, they will be able to prove the Will and be appointed as an executor by the court. However, if they have not reached the age of 21, someone else will have to be appointed as an executor, and well-drafted Wills tend to provide for substitute executors above the age of 21 in these scenarios.

Although a testator can appoint nearly anyone to be an executor in their Will (even a corporation), the court will not grant probate to:

  • A bankrupt (except with leave of court)
  • A person of unsound mind / lunacy
  • A person below 21 years of age

For a person below the age of 21, power will be reserved to the minor to prove the Grant of Probate when that person attains the age of 21.

Roles And Duties Of An Executor In Singapore

The roles and duties of an executor in Singapore should not be taken lightly. The responsibilities are high, the duty is onerous, and the work can be fairly tedious. Generally, the main responsibilities of an executor are as follows:-

Handling The Will Of The Deceased

  • The executor will have to obtain the original copy of the Will to submit for probate
  • The executor will also have to take the time to read and understand the intentions of the testator in accordance with the Will, and to make any necessary copies of the Will.

Making Necessary Funeral Arrangements

  • Not all Wills state the wishes of the testator with regards to funeral rites or arrangements. However, the executor should take this into consideration when details of the testator's wishes have been explicitly stated in the Will.

Notifying Relevant Organizations Of The Testator's Death

  • Examples would include, but are not limited to, banks, brokerages, credit card companies, life insurance companies, clubs, membership subscription companies, etc.

Determining The Assets In The Testator's Estate

  • Generally, the executor should try and make a preliminary assessment of all the assets of the testator in his/her sole name. A practical way of starting the process for most people, particularly for executors close to the testator, is to take note of the main financial organizations that the testator used in his lifetime, and to collate any letters from such financial organizations to develop an approximation of the assets.
  • However, do note that in this day and age, many financial organizations provide the option for their clients to opt out of obtaining their statements through snail mail, and to receive the statements through email instead.
  • It is usually recommended that where there is even a hint of doubt whether any assets exist in a financial organization, the executor should make it a point to check with that financial organization for assets.
  • Unfortunately, financial organizations usually refuse to provide information regarding the assets of the testator after his/her death to anyone, even if you are the next-of-kin. Generally, it is necessary to have started on the probate application and to provide these organizations with the necessary originating court documents before they will be willing to release the information.

Making The Application For The Grant Of Probate

  • After preparing all the necessary documents, the executor will need to make an application for the Grant of Probate.
  • Usually, the executor will hire a law firm to do so, but it is possible to make the application without doing so as well.

Paying Off The Legal Debts Of The Testator

  • if the deceased testator has any outstanding legal debts, the executor will need to ensure that the debts are paid out of the estate prior to any distribution.
  • Common outstanding debts include credit card debts, hospital bills, funeral expenses and legal costs.

Distributing The Assets Of The Estate

  • After all outstanding debts are paid, the executor can then start distributing the necessary assets of the estate of the testator in accordance with the directions of the Will.

What Happens If An Executor Does Not Complete The Administration Of The Estate?

There can be many reasons why an executor does not complete the administration of the estate. One of the more common scenarios is when an executor himself/herself passes away without having completed the administration of the deceased’s estate.

In this situation, it is possible for the executor’s executor to step into his/her shoes and complete the administration. This is also known as the ‘chain of executorship’.


If you are contemplating your options with respect to extracting a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, we can assist. Just get in touch with us through our contact form below and we will follow up with you regarding your matter.

Alternatively, you may wish to get in touch by contacting us at: 6550 6359

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Filed under: Probate & Administration
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