by Peter Lee
A couple approached me and said they wanted to prepare a simple will. The next question was how much would it cost? My reply to them was “I don’t know” because I need to check their family structure and how they would like to distribute their estate. The husband said, “Our distribution is very simple. What we want in our will is that half of my estate goes to my children equally and half to my wife. Vice versa, my wife will give half of her estate to me and half to the children equally. If both of us die, everything will be given to our four children equally.” Their children are 5, 7, 8 and 10 years old. Furthermore, the youngest is mentally retarded. Based on this information, I told them that the most important thing is the appointment of Executors/Trustees whereby they can choose a minimum of 2 and maximum of 4 individuals. However, if the choice is to appoint a Trustee Company like Rockwills Trustee Bhd. as the main Executors/Trustee, then no further appointment is required. They further asked what is the role of Executors/Trustee. So I explained that they are individuals or a Trustee Company who will apply the Grant of Probate for the deceased, unlock the assets of the estate, settle debts and distribute the entire estate to the beneficiaries.
In their position, I pointed out that they would require a “Testamentary Trust” in which the duration of the “Trust” can be lengthy especially for the retarded child. Therefore, it is advisable to appoint Rockwills Trustee Bhd. to be the main Executors/Trustee. The couple looked at each other and said they needed to iron out this matter before giving a reply. Then I further discussed with them about choosing a Guardian for their children if both of them pass away together. I said that it is always best to speak to those whom they want to appoint as Guardian and obtain their consent for the appointment. The husband preferred his sister who has her own family while the wife preferred her sister who is still single. After some argument over their choice, they said that they have to revert to me on this.
When it came to distribution, I highlighted that since half of their entire estate was to be distributed to their minor children immediately after their demise, they must state the amount for each child’s monthly living, medical and education expenses. In addition, they have to specify the duration of the Trust especially for the child who is retarded and if possible set up a Living Trust using insurance as funding for this child. With this explanation, they said they needed further discussion before deciding. So until they revert to me I still would not know the cost of their wills. My story is not to frighten anyone from writing their will but to highlight that if you want to prepare your will for the benefit of your family, please avoid thinking of just a simple will but instead focus on your wishes, giving some thought and plan with your spouse for the benefit of your family. This way your family will cherish you forever.
Peter Lee is an Associate Estate Planning Practitioner (Wills & Trust) with Rockwills International Group. He is also an Islamic Estate Planner providing Wills & Trust services for Muslims. He is based in Ipoh and can be reached at: 012-5078825/05-2554853 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://www.wills-trust.com.my.