Do we need a Will…now?

Posted on May 7, 2008. Filed under: Estate Planning |

I was doing some reading on the Net and came across a forum where this discussed title caught my attention : Have you written your will?

I don’t have the time to read through the many comments in there, but some of them are quite interesting indeed. Different people have different ideas on if its needed or not. Those who say its not needed are those who think that:-

1. Come on, I’m still so young?

2. I only have RM 10 in the bank, so why do I need a will (this made me laugh)

3. If I die, my property automatically transfer to my family member… would right?

4. Never thought of it at all

5. Too costly

Personally I don’t have a will as yet. I am working on one now because I know I should and I have to in order to make sure my assets are to be distributed according to my wishes. Let say, if one doesn’t have a will, his/her assets would be allocated according to the Distribution Act. Per my understanding, according to the Act, if you are single, your parents would get 100% of your estate. That is fine. If you are married, your surviving spouse gets 25%, your children gets 50% and the parents get 25% of the estate. That is fine too. But a scenario that could unfold may be if your parents were to pass away, again without a will, then your parents share of your assets, would be given to their children, ie, your siblings. That might be a cause of some disruption to your own family, eg the house your spouse and kids live in suddenly is 25% owned by your siblings or from your spouse’s perspective, his/her brother or sister in-laws.

The choice of your guardians of your children if you and your spouse passed away together; money and assets being frozen for years during the probate process; are some of the common complications I have heard of. I have an ex-colleague back in Singapore whose brother was tragically killed in an accident, leaving the poor wife and young children. If I understand correctly, the family took close to 5 or 6 years before the family of the deceased could claim the ownership of the assets. Not to mention the stress on the poor wife during all the years waiting….

So, it is vital to have a clear understanding of the implication of not having a will done. Without a proper will done, it could lead to the distribution of your assets in a manner significantly different to your wishes and creates unnecessary complexity for those left behind especially the minor dependents.

I surely am not qualified to share with you my limited knowledge on will content or the Distribution Act in Malaysia, but it is advisable to talk to a professional or read up material regarding the topic to ensure information obtained is valid and updated.

For those whom still think that having a will done is beyond the budget, perhaps you can practice the following to at least minimize the risk of your assets being frozen:-

1. Try to open a joint account with your spouse which allows each party to sign singly. So that your spouse can have access to your funds without going through all the tedious claims processes.

2. Make sure you check your insurance policy and EPF nomination to ensure the chosen beneficiary remains valid. Please make sure your beneficiary is aware that they are the chosen one! If you had done a nomination some years back already, good to check it up again as EPF has/is undertaking an exercise to transfer their manual records into their computer database and I’ve heard and know (one of them my own brother) a few people who upon checking found that their earlier nomination was no longer recorded.

3. If you do invest in Unit Trust, it is strongly advisable to appoint a joint holder. A joint holder is able to manage the investment upon the death of the first holder. (do check with your agent on your desired levels of authority of your appointees).

There should be more than the above 3. Any idea to share?

One point to note is that the above 3 points would only assure your assets are not being frozen like what had happened to my ex-colleague’s brother’s family. It will not hinder the potential complication of the deceased’s family members claiming their entitlement to a share of the estate.

I will be talking to a professional on this issue, but meanwhile, I will be doing my own further research to have a deeper understanding of this topic.

P/s: This link provides a clear distribution schedule as per the Distribution (Amendment) Act, 1997, Malaysia, Section 6



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2 Responses to “Do we need a Will…now?”

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Hi Jean,

Thanks again for highlighting this. Its something I have also thought about but never seriously consider a priority. I have been working for some years now and have some assets which I would of course want to leave to my hubby and kids. I never knew 25% would go to my parents (who are able to support themselves) which would possibly complicate matters for my hubby/kids. Thanks again for highlighting this and do update on your further research into this. Cheers!

Hi Cindy

I am in no way an expert in estate planning. I would suggest you to consult a qualified estate planner if your do have a pool of assets which you want to allocate according to your own wish 🙂

I surely will update you with further good info, if any.

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