Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration

The property of a deceased person in Malaysia is dealt with in one of two ways, depending on whether they left a valid will or not. Either the estate is dealt with under the Grant of Probate, or under Letters of Administration. In both cases, until either the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration are obtained, the estate assets will be frozen.

If a valid will exists: executors will be appointed as per the terms of the will, who must distribute the estate. The executors need to apply to the High Courts in Malaysia for a Grant of Probate which allows the estate and its assets to be ‘released’ so that executors can do things like pay off debts, transfer or sell property, and ensure the beneficiaries get what they are entitled to. In these circumstances, no distribution order, sureties or guarantors are needed.

If no valid will exists: if this is the case, an application must be made for Grant of the Letters of Administration by either a family member of someone interested in the estate of the deceased. The type of application depends on the nature and value of the estate. If the value of the estate is more than RM600,000 then sureties or guarantors are needed to ensure the estate is properly distributed by the administrator(s).

Applications for both the Grant of Probate and the Letters of Administration may be complex in Malaysia, especially if contested. Therefore it is highly recommended that you consult a specialist lawyer. They can speed up the process, help you prepare the necessary documentation, fill in forms and fight on your behalf if a dispute arises.

Grant of Probate

A Grant of Probate is a document that the High Court issues to appoint an executor (up to 4 if acting jointly) in order to manage and distribute the estate. It’s the simplest and quickest way to access the deceased’s property.

In the event that the executor has to withdraw or becomes incapacitated, a Court will grant the Letter of Administration with a Will Annexed. This appoints administrators to the estate by virtue of the Probate and Administration Act 1959.

Grant of Letters of Administration

Where a person dies intestate (without a valid will), administrators will be instructed to distribute the estate. In Malaysia, this means that anyone with a valid interest in the estate (like a creditor or next of kin) can file for Grant of Letters of Administration.

Exactly what process the extraction of the Letters of Administration follows will depend upon the size of the estate, and whether it includes real estate/immovable property in its assets. Here are some examples of types of estate and where the application should be sent to:

  • Estates valued up to RM600,000 without immovable property: file applications with the Amanah Raya Berhad (a government-owned public trustee whose activities are governed by the Public Trust Corporation Act 1995).
  • Estates valued up to RM2 million with immovable property: file applications with a District Land Administrator, under the process set down in the Small Estate (Distribution Act) 1955.
  • Estates worth more than RM2 million: file application with the High Courts in Malaysia.

Probate vs. Letters of Administration in Malaysia

The main differences between the Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration can be summarised as follows:

Grant of Probate Letters of Administration
A will was left by the deceased No will was left, or alternatively one was left but the executors aren’t willing or able to fulfil it
Executors administer the estate, as set out in the will Administrators manage the estate, appointed upon receiving the application by the High Courts or another authority in Malaysia
A Grant of Probate Application is filed to the Malaysian High Court Any interested person (such as a creditor or the next of kin) can apply as an administrator
In Malaysia, a Grant of Probate can be obtained in a matter of months, much less time than it takes to get Letters of Administration Depending on the make-up and value of the estate, the Grant of Letters of Administration application is filed to the High Court, the District Land Office of Amanah Raya Berhad
No requirement for sureties or guarantors Letters of Administration can take months or even years to extract
There is no need for an order for distribution of the estate Sureties and guarantors who guarantee the estate is properly administered are required by the administrator


Grant of Letters of Administration Under Small Estates (Distribution) Act 1955

The Grant of Letters of Administration is regulated by the Small Estates (Distribution) Act 1955. To qualify as a small estate however, there must be no will, and the estate must include immovable property to a value of less than RM 2million.

The application for an extraction of Letters of Administration should be lodged at the District Land Office for the area where the property is to be found. Where there are several properties located in different states, an applicant may simply select one of the District Land Offices.

The submission should include Form A, accompanying documentation, identification of the beneficiaries, the deceased and the estate. When they are satisfied they have received all of this, the District Land Office will hear the petition on which the Land Administrator would issue the Letters of Administration and distribution order for the estate.

Grant of Probate / Letters of Administration and Muslim estates

The above law is applicable only to non-Muslims. For Muslim estates, different regulations should be followed.

If the deceased was a Muslim, then the Administrator will need to make an application to the Syariah High Court in order to get a Faraid Certificate. Faraid Law dictates further about the distribution of Muslim estates.


Which procedure is followed to release the deceased’s estate for distribution will depend on whether a valid will had been left, and how much the estate is worth. The most straightforward procedure is undoubtedly the application for Grant of Probate, but this can only be done where a will was left.

Without a will or named executors, Letters of Administration must be used to distribute the estate. To apply for it, an application should be sent to either the High Courts, a District Land Office, or the Amanah Raya Berhad, depending on what the estate is made up of and how much it is worth.

It’s advisable to engage a lawyer to help you in these processes, for several reasons. For example, the will may be contested, and there may be lengthy and complex procedures to extract either the Grant of Probate or the Letters of Administration, depending on the circumstances of the individual case.