Have you written your will? If not, are you deterred by the charges of will writing and maintenance services?
Well, the good news is, under the Malaysian Wills Act 1959, you are empowered to write your own will which is recognised as legal document, even without the need of a lawyer or professional will service provider.
So, if you believe that your will is quite unlikely to be challenged, and is very simple and straightforward, you can try DIY your own will. Otherwise, you should think about getting the professional to help you in will writing to avoid any unexpected trouble after you die.
Why you should write a will, be it DIY or drafted by professional will writer? With a valid will, when you pass away someday, you are said to die testate and your will and testament will be executed accordingly. You will be able to inform about:
- Who should execute your will? (the executor)
- Who shall inherit your wealth (a.k.a. estate) and what portion they will get? (the beneficiaries)
- Who you entrust to distribute your asset? (the trustee) Before the actual distribution to beneficiaries, your asset might need to temporary parked under this name to facilitate the distribution process.
- If both your spouse and yourself die together, who will take care of your minor children? (the guardian)
- Do you want to donate certain portion to charity, NGO, etc.? (the special bequests)
- How you want your funeral to be? (burial, cremation, ...) Done under ceremony of what religion? (the additional request)
- Any last words you want to speak to your family members?
- Locate your Will
- Make funeral arrangement
- Apply for a Grant of Probate (GP)
- Call in assets
- Pay remaining debts
- Prepare Statement of Accounts
- Distribute assets according to your Will
- Carry out your wishes mentioned in your Will
- Appoint an administrator to administer your asset according to the Malaysian Probate and Administration Act 1959.
- Obtain a Letter of Administration (LA).
- Identify, locate, assess and value your estate.
- If your estate exceeds RM50,000, need to find 2 sureties or guarantors to sign an administration bond.
- Your estate will be distributed according to the Malaysian Distribution Act 1958.
- Taking longer time to process.
- The LA is generally more expensive than the GP.
- Might need legal services, accountants, tax consultants and other professionals arises, which could end up more costly.
- One asset being distributed out to too many beneficiaries, which might cause problem for them to sell the asset later, as all signatures are needed when disposing the asset.
- The guardian of your minor children is not appointed when they become orphan.
- Your funeral might not be carried out in your preferred manner.
- Yourself as the testator, who is above 18 years old, be of sound minded. If your will is written when you are sick, you might want to get your doctor to sign and certify that you are of sound minded the moment when you write your will.
- At least 2 witnesses, who are above 18 years old. The witnesses cannot be any one from your beneficiaries.
- Have your will hand-written or computer printed on paper, and the testator and all witnesses to sign on it.
If your loans and debts are unable to be settled by your assets, then your estate is insolvent, and there is nothing left to distribute to your beneficiaries. Your beneficiaries will get nothing from you, but they also need not taking care of your remaining debt.
If you are able to clear off all your financial obligations and have a solvent estate, then your beneficiaries will inherit your estate accordingly.
Now you are pretty clear about the requirement and knowledge of writing your own will. You can download this template courtesy of Struan Inc. Sdn Bhd, fill in the necessary, and get it fully signed by all of your witnesses and yourself.
Note that under the Malaysian Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1971, your surviving spouse and/or children might be able to challenge your will if they are not agreeable with it, regardless they are stated as beneficiaries or not. If you wish to make your will unchallengeable, you should better engage the service of professional will writer to assist in your will writing.
Note: The above only applies to non-Muslim in Malaysia. There are separate laws and treatment for Muslim will writing.