Parties to a Will

Who are the parties involved in a Will?

The parties to a Will are the:

  • Testator – a person who writes the Will.
  • Executor(s) – A person(s) or a trust corporation appointed by the testator to administer his/her estate
  • Trustee(s) - Person(s) or trust corporation appointed in a Will to hold on trust for beneficiaries who inherit assets in a Will.
  • Guardian - A person appointed to take care of the welfare of minor children.
  • Beneficiaries - Person(s) or entities (eg. a charity) who receive gifts under a Will.
  • Two Witnesses - two independent parties who witnessed the testator signing the Will. The three parties (i.e. 2 witnesses and testator) must sign the Will in the presence of each other. The two witnesses are to confirm that the testator is sound mind when signing his/her Will.
Who is an administrator? Who is qualified to be an administrator?

An administrator is a person appointed to administer the estate of the deceased who has passed on without a Will. All legal beneficiaries of the deceased are qualified to be an administrator.

They must be an adult (18 years or older), and if there are beneficiaries in the Will who are below 18 years of age, at least two executors and administrators must be appointed.

Who can I appoint as my executor or trustee?

You can appoint any adult (18 years or older) to act as your executor and trustee. You can appoint between 1 to 4 executors to jointly administer your estate. You may also name persons to step into the shoes of your appointed executor(s) in the event any of them predecease you or renounce their executorship. Alternatively, you can appoint a trust company to act as your executor and trustee, should you feel that a friend or relative may not have the necessary skill to properly administer the estate, or if they may not be sufficiently trustworthy or impartial to your wishes.

What is the role of an Executor?

An Executor is required to:

  • Locate the Will
  • Make funeral arrangements
  • Make the application for a Grant of Probate (GP)
  • Call in the assets
  • Pay debts
  • Prepare the Statement of Accounts
  • Distribute assets according to the Will
  • Carry out wishes mentioned in the Will

What is the role of a Trustee?

If you have beneficiaries below the age of 21 years old, then you have to appoint a Trustee to hold the assets for them until they reach the age of 21 years old.

Their role is to:

  • Continue to administer the estate where the properties cannot be distributed, eg. for a minor or before the trust period ends.
  • Manage the estate according to the instructions and powers given by the Will and according to the Trustees Act.
  • The appointed trustees cannot benefit by virtue of their office. All profits must be accounted for.

Can the Executor and Trustee be the same person?


What happens if both witnesses to the Will have died or cannot be located when the Will is submitted to the court for probate?

The court will require an affidavit from the person who was present when the Will was executed. If there is no such person, it will require an affidavit from a person who can verify the authenticity of the testator's signature.

Should I inform the person I want to be my executor?

Yes. You are encouraged to inform and obtain consent from persons you would like to appoint as your executor and trustee, so as to avoid the likelihood of them possibly renouncing their executorship later.

Is my executor entitled to payment from the estate?

Yes. Your executor and trustee is entitled to deduct from your estate expenses reasonably incurred in The administration of your estate, including any legal fees incurred. Trust companies will typically charge a fee for acting as executor and trustee. Even a friend or relative is entitled to charge a reasonable fee for their time spent in administering the estate.

Can one of my beneficiaries be appointed as the executor of my Will?

Yes, your executor may also be a beneficiary to your estate. In fact, if you are leaving everything to your spouse or adult children who are capable of managing their finances, it is a natural choice to appoint your spouse or one or more of your children as your executor(s).

Can one of my beneficiaries be the executor, trustee and guardian in my Will?

Yes, he can. However, for check and balance purposes, it is always advisable to appoint a guardian who does not perform the duty of a trustee.

Do I need to appoint a guardian in my Will? Under what circumstances does a testator need to appoint a Guardian and Trustees?

A guardian is appointed when there is a minor beneficiary named in the Will. Normally, the Trustees will hold on trust for the minor till he/she has attained the age of 21 years old or a ‘Trust Properties’ or ‘Trust Fund’ is created in the Will. A guardian is needed to take care of the welfare of the minor children if both parents are pre-deceased.

I was advised that I should not appoint the same person in my Will as my Trustee and Guardian. What is the reason for this?

The role of your Trustee is to hold on trust your money and other assets for your minor children, while your Guardian is to take care of the welfare of your minor children. Thus, it is always wise to appoint different people to ensure there is counter-check, especially on the money left behind by you for your minor children.

Can my beneficiary witness my Will?

No. a beneficiary will not be eligible to receive any benefit from the estate if he/she or his/her spouse signs as a witness to the Will.

Can the spouse of any of my beneficiaries be a witness of my Will?

No, Section 9 of The Wills Act 1956 expressly forbids Gifts to an attesting witness or to wife or husband of attesting witness to be void.

Can my Executor witness my Will?

Yes, Section 11 of the Wills Act 1959 expressly allows an Executor to be a witness to the signature of the Testator of the Will.

What will happen if I do not know who to appoint as my executor and trustee?

You can always appoint a Trust Corporation. If your children are too young to be appointed as trustee and executor, you can insert a provision that if they are of age, then they will be appointed; failing which a Trust Corporation can be appointed instead. Appointing a Trust Corporation will insure impartiality and continuing existence.

Can the witnesses and the testator sign on the Will at different times?

Yes, provided the Testator acknowledges his signature in the signed Will in the presence of 2 witnesses present at the same time and thereafter the 2 present witnesses sign their signature in the presence of the Testator and in the presence of each other witnesses.

Can I write a Will for someone when I am one of the beneficiaries in the Will? Is there any conflict of interest?

There is no restriction on writing a Will. However, if the Will is contested in Court later and the Court finds suspicious circumstances exist, probate might not be granted unless the suspicious are removed.