Don’t Worry It Won’t Happen To Us

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By Peter Lee

When Chew was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he was advised by some of his family members to prepare a will to avoid family disputes, especially between his mother, wife and three school-going children. One of the three children is in University and the other two in secondary school. However, he was upset with the advice and said to them, “Don’t worry it won’t happen to us,” because everything will be given automatically to his wife and children if he dies. So when he died, his estate was instead distributed according to the Distribution Act, 1958 (amended in 1997) whereby ¼ to wife, ¼ to mother and half to children. His mother now wants to claim ¼ of his entire estate. To unlock his estate, his wife has to apply for the Letter of Administration but requires the consent of all the beneficiaries (i.e., Wife, Mother and Children) to appoint her as the Administrator. That’s when Chew’s mother refused to consent to the appointment unless she is also appointed as joint Administrator. This led to further argument between mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Before this could be resolved, Chew’s wife discovered that Chew had purchased 5 properties worth RM4 million without any insurance coverage because he never believed in Insurance during his lifetime and all these properties were charged with the banks. To add salt to the wound, there was an accumulated interest of RM30,000 left unpaid. She is now worried that the estate may be insolvent as she could not service the interest. 

It is always sad to see many people holding to the belief until death that everything will be fine for their family without planning, especially with regards to preparing a will. Chew could have planned to avoid the above problem by preparing his will. In doing so, he can choose Executors of his choice and if he anticipates that there will be a problem between his family members upon his death, then he is strongly encouraged to choose a Trustee Company like Rockwills Trustee Bhd. to be the main Executors/Trustee because it provides expertise, impartiality, professionalism and perpetual existence. Then he has to choose a Guardian for his minor children if his wife also passes away. The next important issue to take care of is the distribution of his estate to his immediate family where in his case requires a “Testamentary Trust” for his minor children especially for the maintenance of their monthly living, medical and education expenses. 

Presuming that Chew had written his will as mentioned above, he must also have sufficient insurance coverage to cover his loan instalments. Otherwise, the role of the Executors/Trustee will be made tougher because they have to salvage as much as they can from the estate to repay these debts. In Chew’s case, the estate may encounter insufficient assets to distribute to the intended beneficiaries and could lead to an insolvent or bankrupt estate by the time the Executors/Trustee settle these debts. That’s the reason one has to make it compulsory to purchase an Insurance coverage when borrowing from the bank to purchase a property, even though one believes that he/she has sufficient funds to repay the loan. 

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 excelsec@streamyx.com. Website: http://www.wills-trust.com.my.

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