“Good Morning, Maggie.” “Good Morning, Mr Dave.” “Is John Lee in?” asked Dave. “Yes, Mr Dave. Let me intercom him”, replied Maggie. As Dave was about to open the door to John’s room, the door swung open and John was there to greet him. Both men shook hands and greeted each other. “Would you like to have coffee or tea” asked John? “Coffee please” was Dave’s response. John leaned towards his phone and pressed on the intercom asking Maggie to bring in two cups of coffee.
Then, John said, “Dave the reason I asked you to come today is to ask for your advice on my late father’s estate. As you know, he died one month ago and my brothers and sisters have been asking me when the distribution of his estate can commence. Now, my father’s estate is sizable and he died without a will.” “Since your father died without a will, the first thing your family has to do is to apply for the Letter of Administration (LA),” replied Dave “and to do that, an Administrator has to be appointed.” “So, what is the Administrator’s role?” asked John.
“Well, the Administrator is the person responsible for all the assets of your father’s estate and needs to collect all the assets of the entire estate after the High Court issues the LA. Then the Administrator is to ensure that all the debts of the estate are settled before distributing to the beneficiaries.” “So, can I be the Administrator since I am the eldest?” asked John. “Yes but provided you get the consent of all the beneficiaries and the Court agrees to it,” replied Dave. “I will be damned,” retorted John. “What’s wrong?” asked Dave. “I have to tell you that I am not on good terms with my second brother and youngest sister,” said John. Then their conversation was interrupted by the appearance of Maggie holding a tray with two cups of coffee.
Once Maggie left the room, Dave said to John, “One thing I know is that your mum is still alive but can you tell me how many surviving brothers and sisters you have?” John replied, “I have two brothers and three sisters.” Dave paused for a moment while referring to the Malaysian Distribution Act and then told John that his mother would be entitled to one-third of her husband’s estate and two-thirds would be shared equally among the children. Dave further said to John that the Administrator would also be required to prove the death of his father’s parents with their death certificates. John quickly asked, “what if we can’t get that because they died some thirty years ago?”
Dave replied, “The other way of proving your grandparents death is by way of getting two witnesses who have witnessed their death or apply to the High Court for the Presumption of Death Certificate. John smiled for a second and said, “I think the witnesses would be in heaven by now.” “There is one more thing you need to know, you also need to appoint two guarantors (who are sureties to provide an Administration Bond) for the estate”, said Dave. “Why?” asked John. “The reason is that if the Administrator runs away with the estate money, then the Guarantors will have to pay the beneficiaries. The Guarantors are required to provide a guarantee of the gross estate value of the decease’s estate,” replied Dave.
“After listening to you Dave, I think I have to arrange for my family to meet up with you next Thursday so that we could start off the LA application by appointing the Administrator. Is that ok with you?” Dave asked John. “I think I am okay but please confirm the time later.”
To be continued in Episode 2.
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 protected] Website: http://www.wills-trust.com.my.
(Peter Lee’s column will appear monthly.)