Ananda, a widower, nominates four of his children as beneficiaries of his insurance policies and EPF in equal shares. His children are aged 5, 8, 10 and 12. After his wife’s passing two years ago, his parents in their mid 60s had been taking care of his children while he worked. He had been working very hard to provide for his children. One day, he suffered a stroke and went into a coma where he died one week later. His parents then discovered that he died without a will. Although he had nominated his four children as the beneficiaries of his EPF, they would not be able to receive it because they are still under 18 years old. He did the same nomination for his insurance policies and because the children were still minors at the time of nomination, he chose his wife to be the Trustee in the nomination form. However, he did not change the Trustee when his wife died. As a result, the insurance money was disbursed to Amanah Raya Berhad (ARB) (as the Public Trustee). Ananda’s parents as the guardians can liaise with ARB to have some of the proceeds released periodically. The children will be able to obtain any balance when they reach 18 years old. The insurance proceeds are simply not enough and the heavy responsibility of funding now falls on the shoulders of Ananda’s parents as his other assets are frozen and can only be unlocked after his family obtains the Letter of Administration. This tragic and sometimes unexpected situation can befall anyone and his children’s position is like cry me a river and yet it runs dry.
Nomination of beneficiaries in EPF and insurance, like Ananda’s case, is vital because it provides immediate funding for his family. However, his estate encounters another set of problems because his children are still minors. If he was alive, he could minimise the problem by drawing up his own will. In his position, it’s strongly advisable to choose a Trustee Company like Rockwills Trustee Bhd. to be the Executors/Trustee of his estate. Then it’s natural that he chooses his parents as the guardian for his children since they have been taking care of them. However, he must also choose a substitute guardian just in case anything were to happen to his parents. The appointment of guardian is extremely important because they can also claim a certain amount from EPF for immediate funding while the whole estate is frozen. EPF would definitely investigate who the rightful guardian is. So it helps by mentioning the name of the guardian in his will. As for distribution, he must specify a monthly amount to be paid progressively for his children’s living, medical and education expenses until at least the youngest child attains the age of 21. This is what we refer to as a “Testamentary Trust”. As for the Insurance policies, it is always important to review the status of the beneficiaries and Trustee whom he has chosen. Since immediate funding is always the biggest concern for all families upon the demise of the breadwinner, it is of great importance that he sets up an Insurance Trust during his lifetime whereby he, as the settlor, must assign all his insurance policies to a Trustee company like Rockwills Trustee Bhd. so that when he dies, Rockwills Trustee will receive it immediately and pay for his children’s expenses.
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.