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What if I an not happy with and Appointed Executor or Asministrator

When someone passes away, he either does so with a will or intestate. Where a will appoints an executor, the appointed person may take up the task and apply for a grant of probate to administer the estate for the deceased. Alternatively, where no such person is appointed, or where there is no will, family members and other people may apply for Letters of Administration.

If you are unhappy with the people administering the estate of the deceased, you may seek recourse in the Probate and Administration Act. Section 32 provides that “any probate or letters of administration may be revoked or amended for any sufficient cause”

What amounts to ‘sufficient cause’
‘Sufficient cause’ is not defined anywhere else in the Probate and Administration Act. However, previous court judgments shed light on what ‘sufficient cause’ means. Particular, the term has been defined by the Court of Appeal to mean the “undue and improper administration of the estate in total disregard of the interests of beneficiaries” (Jigarlal Kantilal Doshi v Damayanti Kantilal Doshi [2000] 3 SLR(R) 290). To make out such undue and improper administration, there has to be evidence of misconduct and fraud or immediate danger of loss.

What is misconduct and fraud?
To understand what misconduct of an executor or administrator is, it is pertinent to know what their duties are. Amongst many other duties, an executor or administrator is expected to:

  • Pursue debts owed to the deceased’s estate
  • Resolve liabilities owed by the deceased
  • Distribute the assets to the beneficiaries of the estate, either in accordance with the will or pursuant to s 7 of the Intestate Succession Act

If you suspect that an executor or administrator is performing his duties negligently or fraudulently, you may wish to apply for a revocation of grant so that he is released from his duties.

What if I want to replace the current executor/administrator with myself?
The Courts have a discretion under Section 18 of the Probate and Administration Act take a practical view when considering the application for a revocation of grant. If there is no ‘suitable party’ to take over the administration of the estate, the grant of probate may not be revoked for practical purposes (Ong Wui Swoon v Ong Wui Teck [2015] SGDC 270).

In considering whether a party is suitable, the starting point is that the person who is most suitable among the beneficiaries to be the administrator is determined according to the priorities of entitlement to the deceased’s estate under the laws of intestate succession (Toh Seok Kheng v Huang Huiqin [2011] 1 SLR 737). This means that in order to prove yourself ‘suitable’ to take over the administration of the estate, you most likely will need to fall in the following classes of persons (in descending order of entitlement):

  • Spouse;
  • Children
  • Parents
  •  Siblings
  • Nieces and nephews
  • Grandparents
  • Uncles and Aunts

Otherwise, being a creditor of the estate may suffice under Section 13 of the Probate and Administration Act.

For more information on probate and administration matters, feel free to contact PROBATE LAWYER or email here

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