What to Do If the Will Cannot be Found
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 Public Trustee 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 Public Trustee Office E-Services 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
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 in the Law Gazette 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 only disclose its contents 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.
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.
- Fiduciaries and Fiduciary Law in Singapore
- Muslim Inheritance Law in Singapore
- What Happens to Your Debts When You Die?
- How to Donate your Assets to Charity
- Organ Donation in Singapore (under HOTA, or For Science)
- Can I Use My Will to Distribute Insurance Proceeds?
- 8 Tools You Must Know for Estate Planning in Singapore
- Who Pays for the Mortgage Debts and Medical Bills After Death?
- Complete Guide to CPF Nominations and How to Make One in Singapore
- Is Inheritance Tax Payable When You Die in Singapore?
- Missing Persons Singapore: Legal Steps to Find and 'Presumed Dead'
- How Do I Make a Will?
- Choosing an Executor for Your Will in Singapore
- Get An Affordable Will Made By Experienced Lawyers
- Where Should You Store Your Will?
- Why Should You Make a Will?
- What is a Mutual Will, Mirror Will and Joint Will?
- How Can I Change My Will?
- Checklist for Drafting a Comprehensive Will in Singapore
- Appointing a Guardian for Your Children in Your Will in Singapore
- The Complete Guide to Making Your Will in Singapore
- How to Plan for Mental Incapacitation
- What is a Lasting Power of Attorney and How to Make One in Singapore
- Advance Medical Directives in Singapore
- Appointment of Deputies under the Mental Capacity Act
- Revocation of a Lasting Power of Attorney
- How to Appoint a Deputy for Mentally Incapacitated Persons in Singapore
- Advance Care Planning in Singapore: Why and How to Get Started
- Mental Capacity Assessment for LPAs and Wills
- An Executor’s Checklist to Executing a Will in Singapore
- What Happens If You Die Without a Will in Singapore?
- How Do I Contest a Will?
- Managing a Loved One's Estate After Their Death in Singapore
- Applying for Letters of Administration: Singapore's Intestacy Laws
- Unfair Maintenance: What Can Singapore's Law Do for You?
- Applying for a Grant of Probate in Singapore
- Can a half-brother be considered a next of kin? (when distributing the assets of the deceased)
- What happens to property when a deceased’s next-of-kin or named personal representative is uncontactable?
- Obtaining a Fresh Grant of Probate and Resealing a Foreign Grant of Probate
- What happens to residuary property not accounted for?
- What happens to a Singapore expatriate's assets when he passes on?
- How to Access the Bank Account of a Deceased Spouse
- What happens to my assets overseas when I pass on?
- What Happens to the HDB Flat When One Owner Passes Away?
- Simultaneous Death: How are Assets Distributed When Family Members Die at the Same Time?
- What to Do If the Will Cannot be Found
- Dispute with Executor of Will in Singapore: What to Do
- What If a Beneficiary Dies Before Receiving His Inheritance?
- What Happens to the Car When the Owner Passes Away?
- How Can Your Minor Beneficiaries Receive Their Inheritance?
- Comprehensive Guide to Probate Fees in Singapore