What do I need to do once the death has taken place?

What do I need to do once the death has taken place?

All deaths in Singapore must be registered within 24 hours. If the death occurred in a hospital, it will likely be registered there, or the hospital staff can help with the process. If the death happened outside the hospital (e.g., at home), call a doctor to confirm the cause of death. If you can't find a doctor, contact your local police center or police division headquarters for help.

To register the death, you'll need a doctor to certify it. The doctor will need the following information:

  • Deceased's name
  • Deceased's sex
  • Deceased's ID number (e.g., NRIC)
  • Deceased's date of birth
  • Date of death
  • Time of death
  • Place/Address where death occurred
  • Cause of death

Doctors can now certify deaths online, automatically registering them. With the doctor's certification and the deceased's ID documents, you can apply for the official death certificate.

The deceased's ID documents will be invalidated in the Immigration and Customs Authority (ICA) system once the death is registered. As the "next-of-kin," you can destroy the invalidated ID to prevent misuse (e.g., punch a hole or cut it in half).

Death registration and digital death certificates are free. You must keep the digital certificate securely on your devices. The "next-of-kin" can download the My Legacy website within 30 days. Meanwhile, a Certificate of the Cause of Death is issued, allowing funeral arrangements to proceed.

If the death occurs at home, contact a doctor to certify it. Try to reach a doctor familiar with the deceased's medical history (e.g., your family general practitioner). If you can't find a doctor, get help from a funeral director or the police.

For seriously ill friends or family members nearing death, consider making early arrangements, such as obtaining a statement from their primary doctor with medical information and pre-identifying a doctor to certify the death.

If the death happens in a public place, call an ambulance for medical assistance. The person will be taken to a hospital, which will assist with the registration process.

You may wish to contact a funeral service to arrange for body collection, embalming, and final rites.

If the body is at the mortuary, the doctor may suspect unnatural or violent causes of death, or the cause might be unknown. The doctor will report the death to the police, who will refer the case to the coroner. The body will be kept for further investigation. The coroner and police will review the case, consider an autopsy, and inform the "next-of-kin" when they can collect the body.

A doctor will certify a death, but the digital death certificate must be downloaded from the My Legacy website.

Only the following people are considered "next-of-kin" and can download the certificate:

  • Spouse
  • Parent
  • Child
  • Sibling
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Aunt/Uncle
  • Niece/Nephew

If you're not a "next-of-kin," you can download the certificate with authorization or permission from someone on the list.

Declare your relationship to the deceased or show the authorization before downloading the digital death certificate.

Visit: here. If someone lacks all the documents, they can do a fees payable Search for Death Record with the following information:

  • Date of death or approximate period of passing
  • Full Name
  • Gender
  • Valid email address (for receiving search results) 

To facilitate the search:

  • Place or address of death
  • Last known address

After the death is certified, you'll get a printout with the death document number, deceased's ID number (used during certification), and date of death.
This printout is required for applying for cremation or burial services.

You need permission for:

  • Cremating the body
  • Burying the body
  • Placing remains in a niche
  • Inland ash scattering
  • Retaining the body for more than 7 days

Apply online at the NEA website.

For funerals at an HDB void deck, get a permit from your Town Council. For landed property funerals, obtain a permit from the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

What about the will and the assets of the deceased?

This depends on whether the deceased left a will and if they are Muslim.

If there's a will, the person named in the will to help distribute the assets (the 'executor') has to apply to court for the authority to distribute assets to the beneficiaries according to the will. 

If there's no will or it can't be found, the person is considered to have died "intestate," and Singapore's "rules of intestacy" apply. In order to manage the deceased's property, a beneficiary under the rules of intestacy has to apply to court for Letters of Administration. Assets are distributed according to a fixed list of beneficiaries.

If the estate value is small (less than S$50,000) and there's no will, the family can apply to the government (Office of the Public Trustee) for help with estate administration, for a fee. This is a simple process, but not all cases are suitable for management by the Public Trustee.

If the deceased is Muslim, Muslim inheritance law applies. Only one-third of an estate can be willed away; the rest is distributed according to Muslim inheritance law. In order for the assets to be distributed, a beneficiary of the estate has to first apply to the Syariah Court for an Inheritance Certificate.

The deceased might have registered their will with the Wills Registry maintained by the Singapore Academy of Law. If so, the Registry has information on the will's location.

The Law Society also offers an online service for law practices and others to broadcast notices or 'Information on Wills'. You can check if any notices have been published by law practices who acted for the deceased. Non-lawyers can also place a notice for a fee. The lawyer who drafted the deceased's will may then get in touch.

To find out more about wills and the process of distributing the assets of the deceased refer to the Probate and Administration Toolkit.

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