As John was heading back to the conference room after Dave left, Maggie, his personal secretary passed an envelope to him and said, “I just received a call from a lady and she asked me to tell you that it’s important for you to read the documents in the envelope immediately because it’s about your father’s estate. Looking surprised, he hurried back to the conference room and opened the envelope. Before his mother started talking to the family, John told her to give him a minute to read the documents in the envelope. His mother asked what it is about. John replied, “There is a letter here from a woman named Connie Cheah claiming that she married father in 1980 and has three sons with him. She has also attached the birth certificates of her three children with father named as the father of the sons and a copy of father’s will saying that all his movable and immovable estate are given to her and her three sons. “I don’t believe this is happening and I thought it happens only in movies. As far as I am concerned, we can forget this and distribute father’s estate as soon as possible,” said Nick Lee. “Believe it or not, I think we have to check this first with Dave before we proceed,” replied John.
Then suddenly Sandy called out “mum are you okay?” Patricia looked pale at this point and asked for a glass of water and her hands were trembling while taking out some heart medicine from her bag. John quickly poured her a glass of water while the rest scrambled to get her medicine. After taking her medicine, she managed to recover. Everyone in the room was silent for a few minutes and then John said “mum I think its better for you to go home and rest while I check with Dave on the validity of this claim.” Patricia said “no, I am feeling better now. You can call him now.” Within minutes Dave was on the line as John put him on speakerphone and said, “Dave, I have in my hands a copy of a letter from a woman claiming that she was married to my father in 1980 and from that marriage they have three sons. She also enclosed a copy of the will and apparently my father’s entire estate goes to her and her three sons.” In response, Dave asked, “Who are the executors?” John said “let me check. Oh! It’s her name only.” Dave replied, “Since there is an Executor, the will is valid” but for your information it’s better to have at least two Executors.”
Then, Dave asked “can you check on the number of witnesses who signed this will. John replied, “I can see only one,” to which Dave said, “are you sure, because if that’s true, then this will is invalid.” Upon hearing this, John quickly said, “Yes! I only see one witness signature. So, does it mean the will is invalid?” “Looks like it” replied Dave. There was a sigh of relief on the faces of all in the room. John continued asking, “Then what about the birth certificates of the three sons?” Dave replied, “I think it’s better you scan and email to me all the documents you received before I can advise because even though the will is invalid, she can lay claim to the estate due to the fact that her marriage to your father was before March, 1982.”
To be continued…
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.