Three children aged 6, 12 and 15 were deprived of their comfortable life after their father died and their mother was accused of his murder. Two of the children were sent overseas and are cared for by friends while the youngest child is under the care of the accused’s sister. When enquiring on the welfare of the children, the Judge was shocked to discover that no payment was made for their maintenance by the Company in which the deceased had a 40% stake. The Bungalow, in which the deceased, his wife and children were staying, is now occupied by the parents of the deceased and their family members, depriving the children of their home. Apparently, the deceased died leaving properties and businesses worth millions and a life insurance policy of RM300,000. It was also uncertain whether the deceased had written a will.
This real life case which happened many years ago may be rare but reminds us that the future of a family can be changed overnight in a fit of anger, and ultimately the children became the innocent victims. Presuming that the deceased did not have a will, his estate would have to apply for a Letter of Administration (LA). Before the family members apply for LA, they must appoint at least two Administrators because the children who are entitled to half of the estate are still minors. The appointment of Administrators must have the consent from all the beneficiaries. The court is unable to intervene if the family members cannot agree on the appointment of the Administrators. As such, the entire estate will be frozen. If the appointment of Administrators is agreed upon, then there is a need to have 2 Guarantors to provide an Administration Bond that is equivalent to the gross value of the estate. The purpose of this Bond is to ensure that if the Administrators abscond with the assets of the estate, then the Guarantors will have to pay for the losses.
All this could have been avoided if the deceased had provided for his family by writing a “will” and setting up a “Private Trust”. In this situation, he would have done well to choose in his will, Rockwills Trustee Bhd. to be the sole Executor/Trustee due to its impartiality, expertise, professionalism and perpetual existence. Then in the best interest of his family, he could will his entire assets to his Private Trust. In this Trust the deceased is named the “Settlor”. He appoints Rockwills Trustee Bhd. as the “Trustee”. Subsequently, he has to name the “Guardian” of his children in the event if he and his wife are unable to take care of their children. In his position, when choosing the Guardian, he must take into account the character of his family members or close friends and their relationship with his children. This applies to the appointment of the “Protectors” who will liaise with the Trustee on the welfare of the children. Thereafter, he can name his wife and children to be the “Beneficiaries”. As for immediate funding, he must execute an absolute assignment for his RM300,000 insurance policy to this Trust during his lifetime so that money can be immediately utilised upon his demise while the other assets will be transferred to the Trust upon obtaining the Grant of Probate from the courts. Then he can list down all this together with his conditions on distribution and the duration in the “Trust Deed”.
Wishing all readers a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and it is my sincere hope that everyone will make their wishes come true with a Will and Trust.
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.