What to Do If the Will Cannot be Found

Last updated on April 8, 2020

Featured image for the "What to Do If the Will Cannot be Found" article. It features a last will and testament.

A loved one of yours has passed away. You know that he/she made a will but unfortunately you haven’t been able to find it. This is even after you have checked his/her personal belongings and asked family members and relatives if they know where the will was kept.

You need the will in order to apply for a Grant of Probate before you can start distributing the deceased’s assets. So what can you do if you cannot find your deceased relative’s will?

Search the Wills Registry for Information on the Will

The Wills Registry is maintained by the Singapore Academy of Law and allows testators (people making a will) to conveniently deposit information on their will for a small fee. Such information includes:

  • The date of the will
  • Who drew up the will
  • Where the will is held

The Wills Registry will store such information for 120 years from the testator’s date of birth. However, it does not keep originals or photocopies of the will.

If your deceased relative had deposited information on his/her will with the Wills Registry, you can retrieve this information using the “Search for Existing Will Record” service at the Singapore Academy of Law Wills Registry page. The service costs $10.00 to use.

Ask the Lawyer Who Drew Up the Will


View this post on Instagram


If you don’t know which lawyer drew up the will, don’t fret! ? Try searching the Wills Registry for information on the will of the deceased instead. If there’s a record of your deceased relative’s will in the Registry, you’ll have information on the date of the will, who drew up the will, and the location of the will. Note that this service costs $10, though! ? – Alternatively, you could place a notice in the Law Gazette to reach out to the lawyer who wrote the will – though this will set you back by $214. ? You could also attempt to locate a draft or a copy of the will, as the court has the ability to grant probate of a copy or draft of a will, until the original will is found. However, if you’re using this approach to obtain probate, it’d be best to hire a lawyer to assist you with this process. ? – If you’ve exhausted all your options and end up not being able to find your deceased relative’s will, it’s most likely that their assets will be distributed according to the rules set out in the Intestate Succession Act, and such distribution may not be according to the deceased’s wishes. ? It’s for this reason that you should tell your closer relatives where you’ve kept your will, or to prepare copies of your will! After all, when there’s a will, there’s a way – but that means nothing if it can’t be found. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ #SingaporeLegalAdvice

A post shared by SingaporeLegalAdvice.com (@singaporelegaladvice) on

If your deceased relative had engaged a lawyer to draw up the will, you may check with the lawyer if the law firm has kept the original will (or a copy of it).

If you don’t know which lawyer drew up the will:

  • Try searching the Wills Registry for this information (see above).
  • Alternatively, you can place a notice with the Law Society to reach out to the lawyer who did so. It costs members of the public $214.00 to place this notice. The lawyer who drafted the will may then contact you upon seeing it.

Note that even if the lawyer’s law firm has kept the original will or copies of it, the lawyer can disclose its contents only to the executors of the will until probate has been granted. This is unless the executors consent to disclosure of the will’s contents before the grant of probate.

Look for a Copy or Draft of the Will

As provided by section 9 of the Probate and Administration Act, the court can grant probate of a copy or draft of the will until the original will is found. It is also possible for the court to grant probate of the contents of the will even without such copies or drafts if the will’s contents can be sufficiently established without them.

The procedure for applying to the court for an order to admit a draft, or copy, or the contents of the will to proof can be found at rule 248 of the Family Justice Rules. However, you may want to hire a lawyer to assist you with this process as it could potentially be a contentious one.

If the court grants your application to admit a draft, or copy, or the contents of the will to proof, you may then proceed to apply for grant of probate.

Learn how to obtain a copy of a deceased’s will in Singapore in our other article.

What If None of These Options Work for You?

If you have explored all of these options but are still unable to find the original will or copies of it, your deceased relative’s assets will be distributed to his/her surviving relatives according to the rules in the Intestate Succession Act.

Estate Planning
  1. Plan Intergenerational Wealth With a Singapore Family Office
  2. Estate Planning for Digital Assets (NFTs, Social Media, Etc.)
  3. 8 Tools You Must Know for Estate Planning in Singapore
  4. Guide to CPF Nominations & How to Make One In Singapore
  5. What Happens to Your Debts When You Die?
  6. Who Pays for the Mortgage Debts and Medical Bills After Death?
  7. Is Inheritance Tax Payable When You Die in Singapore?
  8. Is Stamp Duty Payable When Inheriting Property in Singapore?
  9. How to Donate your Assets to Charity
  10. Organ Donation in Singapore (under HOTA, or For Science)
  11. Finding Missing Persons in Singapore (or ‘Presumed Dead’)
Making a Will
  1. Making a Will in Singapore: What are the Formalities Involved? (2023)
  2. The Complete Guide to Making Your Will in Singapore
  3. Why Should You Make a Will?
  4. Checklist for Drafting a Comprehensive Will in Singapore
  5. Get An Affordable Will Made By Experienced Lawyers
  6. Choosing an Executor for Your Will in Singapore
  7. How to Prepare a Schedule of Assets for Your Will in Singapore
  8. Appointing a Guardian for Your Children in Your Will in Singapore
  9. What is a Mutual Will, Mirror Will and Joint Will?
  10. How to Give Away Overseas Assets in a Will in Singapore
  11. Can I Use My Will to Distribute Insurance Proceeds?
  12. Where Should You Store Your Will?
  13. How Can I Change My Will?
Preparing for Incapacity
  1. Mental Incapacity in Singapore: A Guide
  2. Mental Capacity Assessment for LPAs and Wills
  3. Appointment of Deputies under the Mental Capacity Act
  4. How to Appoint a Deputy for Mentally Incapacitated Persons in Singapore
  5. Advance Medical Directives in Singapore
  6. Making a Lasting Power of Attorney in Singapore
  7. Revocation of a Lasting Power of Attorney
  8. Advance Care Planning in Singapore: Why and How to Get Started
Setting Up a Trust
  1. Creating Pet Trusts in Singapore: Are They Legally Recognised?
  2. What is a Trust? Trust Law in Singapore
  3. Fiduciaries and Fiduciary Law in Singapore
  4. Setting Up a Discretionary Living Trust in Singapore
  5. Trust Protectors: Who are They & How to Appoint One in Singapore
Grant of Probate and Grant of Letters of Administration
  1. No Executor For Your Loved One's Will: What to Do
  2. What is Probate? Is It Needed If Your Loved One Passes Away?
  3. Can the Public Trustee Administer Your Loved One's Estate?
  4. How to Get a Copy of a Deceased's Will in Singapore
  5. Managing a Loved One's Estate After Their Death in Singapore
  6. Applying for a Grant of Probate in Singapore
  7. Intestacy: Applying for Letters of Administration in Singapore
  8. Obtaining a Fresh Grant of Probate and Resealing a Foreign Grant of Probate
  9. Comprehensive Guide to Probate Fees in Singapore
Distribution of Estate Assets
  1. Dispute with Executor of Will in Singapore: What to Do
  2. Bona Vacantia: Dying With No Will or Relatives in Singapore
  3. Who Gets the Joint Bank Account Monies if One Owner Dies?
  4. What Happens If You Die Without a Will in Singapore?
  5. An Executor’s Checklist to Executing a Will in Singapore
  6. What to Do If the Will Cannot be Found
  7. How to Contest a Will in Singapore (Grounds and Procedure)
  8. What Happens to the HDB Flat When One Owner Dies?
  9. How to Access the Bank Account of a Deceased Spouse
  10. What Happens to the Car When the Owner Passes Away?
  11. Simultaneous Death: How are Assets Distributed When Family Members Die at the Same Time?
  12. Can a half-brother be considered a next of kin? (when distributing the assets of the deceased)
  13. What happens to property when a deceased’s next-of-kin or named personal representative is uncontactable?
  14. What happens to property not accounted for in a will?
  15. What happens to a Singapore expatriate's assets when he passes on?
  16. What if a Child or Beneficiary Dies Before the Willmaker?
  17. How Can Your Minor Beneficiaries Receive Their Inheritance?
  18. Unfair Maintenance: What Can Singapore's Law Do for You?
Muslim Inheritance Law
  1. Using Hibah for Muslim Estate Planning in Singapore
  2. Can Muslims Make Nuzriah (or Nazar) in Singapore and How?
  3. Muslim Probate: Guide to Inheritance Certificates in Singapore
  4. Muslim Inheritance Law in Singapore