Ruth passed away without a will at the age of eighty five years ago. She was survived by four children who are in their fifties. Each of them is residing in overseas countries. Three of them are no longer Malaysian citizens because they have obtained foreign citizenship. One of the children, Anthony who resides in Singapore is still a Malaysian citizen and he has decided to return to Malaysia to unlock his mother’s estate which has been frozen for some years because at the point of Ruth’s death none of her children had the time to deal with it. After spending some time in checking, he discovered that his mother’s estate in Malaysia included some money in a bank account, some shares in listed companies and a house. It all added up to RM500,000. She also had bank accounts in Singapore and Australia which amounted to RM100,000.
To unlock his mother’s estate, he applied for the Letter of Administration (L.A.) in Malaysia. The first thing he wanted to do was to appoint himself as the Administrator. However, he was asked to obtain consent from his three other siblings overseas for his appointment. With this request, he spent at least a month locating them as they had lost contact with each other for several years after their mother’s death. After locating them, he sent the letter of consent to all his siblings in different countries for signing and it took him three months to obtain all the signatures. Then he was further requested to look for two guarantors for the estate to ensure that if he absconds with the estate money, then the guarantors would pay the beneficiaries. It was also highlighted to him that when it comes to the distribution of the estate, he has to follow the Malaysian Distribution Act. In other words, all the four children will receive the estate equally. But before that happens, Anthony has to prove that his father and grandparents (Ruth’s parents) have passed away because each of them would be entitled to 1/3 of the estate each if they were alive. Anthony could only produce the death certificate of his father but could not do the same for his grandparents as they died 30 years ago. So, he was told to either look for two witnesses who witnessed their death or produce a sealed Order of Presumption of Death.
The issue of the guarantors and producing the death certificate of his grandparents have now held up the whole application for L.A. Presuming that he clears this hurdle, then the next task would be applying for L.A. again in Singapore and Australia to unlock the bank accounts there and complying with their Distribution Act. As for distributing the estate, he would also have problems transferring the mother’s house to his three other siblings who are foreign citizens. Based on this scenario, I refer to L.A. as Letter of Agony. So, wouldn’t it be better for everyone to make a will to save your family the hassle of going through the agony of executing the L.A. After all, what have you to lose if you do your will and state down your wishes. In Ruth’s case, it was of utmost importance to appoint a Trustee Company like Rockwills Trustee Bhd to act as the Executors so that her estate could be distributed smoothly.
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 email@example.com. Website: http://www.wills-trust.com.my.