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The Estate of MMK

The Estate of MMK, estate administration by Precepts Trustee Ltd.

In one of the more prominent cases we’ve had in recent years, the Estate of MMK case ended after a long drawn-out 4 years of legal proceedings.

It began in January 2015, when the Deceased passed away after a 2-year battle with cancer. She named her best friend as her sole executrix in her last Will, signed in 2013. After her passing, her best friend, who did not reside in Singapore and without experience in administering estates, appointed Rockwills to take over her  role.

Prior to filing for the Grant of Probate, Rockwills made a surprising discovery – a “Mr. K” claiming  to be the next of kin of the Deceased (he was not named as a beneficiary in the last Will of the Deceased), had applied for the Grant of Letters  of Administration. This was done on the basis that the Deceased had died intestate and that he was the sole beneficiary in accordance with Singapore’s Intestate Succession Act.

With the  original last Will in  hand, [Precepts] immediately filed for a Probate Caveat* to arrest the situation, preventing Mr. K from proceeding. If this had been delayed, Mr. K would have ended up taking over the entire  estate.

[Precepts] requested for Mr. K to withdraw his application. However, after 6 months of communication between solicitors from both sides, Mr. K sprang a surprise. In an unexpected turn of events, Mr. K produced a document, claiming that the Deceased had signed it 6 days before her demise, to revoke all her earlier Wills.

This newly produced revocation document was not an updated Will by the Deceased, but a one-liner to revoke all her earlier Wills. If it was valid, her last Will signed in 2013 would have been revoked and her entire estate transferred to Mr. K.

It was highly suspicious that the revocation document was produced only after 6 months. There was no logical reason as to why the Deceased would have signed it before her demise. She had lived through a continuously acrimonious relationship with Mr. K. To add to our doubt, the only witnesses present during the signing of the document were those related to Mr. K.

With a genuine desire to protect and preserve the interests of beneficiaries named in the last Will of the Deceased, Rockwills commenced a legal proceeding against Mr. K for all the relevant issues to be tried in court. The revocation document was sent to a handwriting expert for examination, together with specimen signatures of the Deceased, which took 2 years to gather from her ex-employer, insurance companies, banks, court and other authorities.

The legal proceedings went on for another 2 years and in 2019, everything was eventually settled. After receiving favourable results from the handwriting expert, the other party agreed for Rockwills to carry out the wishes of the Deceased stated in the Will.

What could have been a simple estate matter turned into a complicated one. Many do not expect to face onerous responsibilities when taking on an executor’s role. In reality, the challenges can be massive for some cases. If the best friend of the Deceased handled this case without passing it on to Rockwills, abandonment  of the case is almost guaranteed when stress levels and legal fees surge. This would have resulted in all the beneficiaries named in the Will being disinherited by the revocation document produced by Mr. K. It is therefore advisable to appoint a suitable person to be the executor of your estate.

 

This article was first published in our newsletter, The Custodian Issue 13 on Jun, 2020. Click here to access our latest newsletter.

 

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