Glossary of Common Will and Probate Terms in Singapore

glossary Singapore probate


The world of Wills and Probate has its own language, and sometimes this language can get a little confusing. Here at Singapore Probate, we’ve set out a glossary of common legal and quasi-legal terms you’ll come across when you’re drafting a will or handling letters of representation.

Hopefully, this’ll help you to navigate the slightly murky waters of Singapore estate-planning.

ABATEMENT:  A reduction of what the testator intended to leave behind to a beneficiary, usually as a result of having an estate that does not have enough to pay off its debts and obligations.

ADEMPTION:  When something the testator intended to give away in his will fails because the subject matter is no longer available at the time of his death. For example, if you specified that you wanted your daughter to have your great-grandmother's diamond ring, but it was sold away prior to your death, this diamond ring would be considered to be "adeemed".

ADMINISTRATOR:  A person who manages administers the assets of the testator's estate, usually someone with a close connection to the testator.

BENEFICIARY:  An individual or entity to whom the testator intends to bequeath real and personal property, cash or other assets.

CAVEAT: A formal warning filed in the Family Justice Courts by a person known as a caveator if he wishes to:

(a) ensure that no grant is made without notice to the caveator; and

(b) be given an opportunity to contest the right to a grant.

CODICIL:  An amendment to an existing will.

COMMORIENTES:  Two or more persons dying roughly around the same time, usually in a specific event (e.g. a car crash), but in circumstances in which it is impossible to determine the order of death.

DEVISE:  A gift of real property by the will of the testator.

ESTATE:  The personal property of an individual; often used to refer to the entire holdings of a deceased individual.

EXECUTOR:  An individual entrusted by the testator to make sure his last wishes are granted with regards to the disposition of his property and possessions.

GIFT OVER:  To provide for the gift of property to a second recipient if a certain event occurs first (e.g.  the death of the first recipient).

INTER VIVOS:  From one living person to another living person.

KIN:  A relative related by blood.

LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY:  This is a legal document which allows someone who is at least 21 years of age to voluntarily appoint one or more persons to make decisions and act on his behalf as his proxy decision maker if he should lose mental capacity one day.

LEGACY:  A gift under a will.

LEGATEE:  A person to whom personal property is gifted in accordance with a will.

NUNCUPATIVE WILL:  A will declared by a testator before a sufficient number of witnesses and afterwards reduced into writing, but is not signed. Nuncupative wills are generally not valid wills under Singapore law.

PROBATE:  The formal certificate given by a court under the seal of the Court that certifies that a will has been proven, validated and registered and which, from that point on, gives the executor the legal authority to execute the will.

TESTAMENTARY CAPACITY:  The legal capacity to sign a will in Singapore.

TESTATOR:  The signatory of a valid will.

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The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information and content available on this website are for general informational purposes only. Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information.