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Mommy, Where Is Daddy?

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By Peter Lee

With a busy career which requires extensive travelling, Brenda a professional trainer in her early forties decided not to get married but instead become a single mother by adopting Angel when she was 2 months old. Angel is now 4 years old and occasionally asks her mum, “where is daddy?” when she sees her classmates in her nursery being fetched by their fathers. Brenda normally avoids this question. Angel is cared for by Brenda’s 60 year old mother. The only other family member is her sister. Knowing that she has a small family unit made her worry about Angel’s welfare if she passes away. Therefore, she quickly prepared her own will naming her sister as the sole Executor and her mother the sole Guardian. It was further mentioned that upon her demise, her sister shall finance the living expenses of Angel from the estate until she reaches 21 years old. Not long after that, Brenda met with an accident which left both her legs paralysed. The most important question in her mind now is how is she is going to care for Angel financially? Luckily for Brenda, she had purchased an insurance policy of RM1.5 million before this incident. Therefore, she managed to claim for the insurance money. She had another insurance policy of RM500,000 which only covers death. However, with the insurance money received she wanted someone with perpetual existence to hold on to the money and continue funding Angel’s monthly living expenses if she passes away, realising that process for her probate to unlock her estate would require some time. The question is how to do it?

In Brenda’s case, it is best that she sets up two types of “Trusts”. The first one is the “Living Trust” whereby Brenda is the “Settlor” and she appoints a Trustee Company like Rockwills Trustee Bhd. to be the “Trustee”. Since Angel is still a minor, Brenda has to name the “Guardian” and Protectors are most likely to be her mother followed by her sister being the substitute. The role of the “Guardian” is to take care of the minor whereas the role of the ‘Protector” is to act as a watchdog on the “Trustee”. After this, Brenda can then name Angel to be the sole beneficiary and specify the condition of distribution for Angel’s monthly living, medical and education expenses, the Guardian’s allowance and the duration of the Trust. Since Brenda has an insurance policy that only covers death, it is timely for her to execute an absolute assignment for this policy to her “Living Trust”. This ensures that this insurance money will be passed to the Trustee for Angel’s funding when Brenda dies. The second type of Trust Brenda should set up is a “Declaration of Trust” whereby Brenda is the Settlor and the main Trustee meaning that when Brenda is alive she holds on to her entire estate. But when she dies some of her assets specified in her “Declaration of Trust’ such as Fixed Deposits, shares or unit trust shall be passed to the substitute Trustee like Rockwills Trustee Bhd. for distribution to the beneficiary through the Guardian. The condition of the distribution can be similar to the “Living Trust”. As for Brenda’s will, she must appoint at least two Executors instead of one, just in case her sister also passes away.

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.