When you hear the words grant of probate and letters of administration, do they ring a bell or sound familiar? These two set of words are synonymous with the word inheritance, as wills are to the word probate. They both play a vital role for you and your loved ones in the event that you pass away or a loved one passes away.

Now, here’s the question if you died without a will, does it make a difference in the way your estate is administered? Or, if you died with a will? Will it also impact how the properties you leave behind are distributed? We have long discussed the impact of dying without estate planning and dying with estate planning, but if you’re new to this topic, then we suggest you read the following blogs before proceeding down the line.

  • Technical Aspects of Estate Planning
  • These Are The 7 Steps of The Estate Planning Process You Need To Pass Through To Create A Rock Solid Estate Plan  (Part 1)
  • These Are The 7 Steps of The Estate Planning Process You Need To Pass Through To Create A Rock Solid Estate Plan  (Part 2)

What is the Difference between Probate Grant and Letters of Administration?

These two set of words may seem unbreakable and synonymous with each other, but they are actually different. And you’ll be finding out just how different they are to each other. As one pertains to estate planning and the other to intestacy. Both Letters of administration and probate grant or grant of probate deal with an estate deceased but how they are filled depends on whether the deceased has a will or not.

What is a Grant of Probate?

A grant of probate is a legal document issued by the probate court that authorises you or anyone to distribute and deal with the assets of a deceased person. Let’s say your great aunt dies and leaves behind a will, in her will, she names you as the executor. Before you can go about doing what your great aunt has instructed in her will, you need to first have a document from the court that gives you the power to do so. The banks and other institutions will require this piece of a legal document before they provide you with access to her estate.

What are Letters of Administration?

Letters of administration, unlike grant of probate, deals with the estate of a person who died without a will. So, basically, it is a legal document that allows you to manage, deal with and distribute the intestate person’s estate. Let’s say your great uncle dies leaving a big fortune, but lah! He had no will. There’s no one to administer his estate. You can apply to the Supreme Court for the letter of administration to allow you to distribute his assets according to the Intestate Succession Act.

Other scenarios where Letters of Administration is needed:

  • There is a will, but no executor has been appointed;
  • Appointed executors are legally incapable of executing the will;
  • The executor renounced his or her right to act as an executor;
  • No executor survives the testator; e.g. they died before the testator, or they died together with the testator;
  • All executors died before they got the grant of probate;
  • No executor of the will has shown up to execute the will.

In the cases mentioned above, you can, therefore, apply for letters of administration to distribute the deceased estate. You must attach the will or annex the will with your application for letters of administration.

What are the requirements for applying for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration?

  • You need to have the Originating Summons attached with your statement containing relevant information or data. The data contained in your statement will be input in an electronic template/format.
  • You need a checklist for the Originating Summons which will also be in an electronic template/format.
  • You will need to bring a supporting affidavit verifying the information you wrote in the Statement of Probate or Administration.
  • Your Administration Oath and if any: oath of your co-administrators.
  • The certified true copy of the deceased’s death certificate. Remember you must submit the Original death certificate for verification.
  • For Muslims, you must submit the Original Inheritance Certificate from Syariah Court.
  • A certified true copy of the will. Remember you must submit the original.
  • And lastly, you must have a Certificate of Result of Caveat Search together with search reports from the relevant Court.

Additional Requirements needed for Grant of Probate:

  • You need the original will and two A4-sized true certified copies.
  • You also need one A3-sized uncertified copy of the will.
  • If the will is not written in English. You need to have a certified true translation by a competent translator attached to the will.
  • You also need documents of renunciations by persons appointed as executors of the will, who do not wish to be executors.

Additional Requirements for Letters of Administration:

  • You need to submit a consent of a co-administrator; if there is any.
  • You also must procure a document of renunciation of the beneficiaries having prior right to apply for letters of administration if are any.

Notes for more information:

If the value of the deceased estate is below $5 million, then your application for probate (grant of probate) will go to the Family Court. If the value of the estate exceeds $5 million, then it will be handled by the Family Division of the High Court. You will also be referred to the High Court if the case involves resealing of a foreign grant.

The Grant of Probate, as well as the Letters of administration, will not be granted to more than four persons for the same estate. So, if you and or another other person involved would want to administer an estate, make sure that you do not exceed the four-person rule.

Final Thoughts

Both the Grant of Probate as well as the  Letters of Administration are both legal documents necessary for distributing, handling and managing a deceased estate. Before you can touch whatever assets a deceased loved one’s assets, you need to have either of the two first. Both Letters of Administration and grant of probate take time before they can be granted. And careful estate planning can prevent such long waits. So, if you want a fast transition after your death, then be meticulous in planning your estate.