Most of us would probably not be thinking about getting our wills written until much later in life. However, it might be useful for us to have a general idea of what wills are about.
Read Also: Why Is It Important For You To Have A Will?
Here is a list of things that you should know.
#1 Only For Non-Muslims
For Muslims, inheritance will be governed under Syariah law, where one would need to prepare their “Wasiat” (the equivalent of a will) and appoint their “Wasi” (the equivalent of an executor).
Contrary to popular belief, a will and a “Wasiat” are two entirely different things governed by two entirely different set of laws although they both serve a similar purpose.
#2 A Beneficiary Cannot Be A Witness To The Will
If your parents ask you to be a witness to their will, you would know for sure that you are not a beneficiary to the will (that means you will not inherit anything).
So, if that ever happens, make sure to ask them if they know what they are doing as they might not be aware that a beneficiary cannot be a witness, and whether that is what they really want to do.
#3 It Can Take 2-5 Years To Distribute Assets If You Die Without One
If you are thinking that you can walk into a bank or the land office and claim your inheritance simply by showing proof of your identification and your relation to the deceased anytime you like, you are wrong.
If a non-Muslim dies intestate (without a will), their next of kin would have to apply for a Letter Of Administration, appoint an administrator (whom all legal beneficiaries will have to agree on) and go through the lengthy process of administering an estate which can take up to 2-5 years.
With a will, the process would be much faster, but it would still take at least 3 months for the executor to obtain a Grant Of Probate (a court permission to allow the executor to execute the will) and execute the contents of the will.
#4 The Value Of Your Assets Might Depreciate While Waiting For Your Will To Be Executed
Usually, it would take at least 3 months for a will to be executed. If your inheritance includes assets like stock holdings, the value of the stocks might depreciate by the time legal ownership is transferred to you.
Without a will, the process could take up to 2-5 years, by which time a financial recession might occur and significantly diminish the portfolio value you would inherit.
#5 Witnesses And The Testator Must Sign On The Will At The Same Time
One of the main functions of witnesses is to ensure that the testator is of sound mind at the time the will is made.
Hence, the 2 witnesses and testator must all sign on the will in the same session
#6 Not All Lawyers Know How To Write A Will
We have been brought up with the impression that all lawyers would know how to write a will, but that is not entirely true. While lawyers do have the legal capacity to help you with your will, not all of them would have the right expertise to do so.
Like doctors, lawyers have their specialties as well. A corporate lawyer would not know much about wills and estate planning just as a neurosurgeon would not know much about heart surgeries.
If you would like to engage a lawyer, it would be advisable for you to engage one who specializes in this field. However, engaging a lawyer can be very expensive, even for a simple will.
#7 Wills Can Be Written At Banks, Trust Management Companies Or Will-Writing Service Providers
For most people who don’t have complicated family relations or a huge corporate empire to leave to their loved ones, a simple will done at a bank or a will-writing service provider would suffice.
Most of us might not be aware that some of the major banks have their own will-writing services that start from a few hundred ringgit per will. If you have a significant amount of deposit (usually over RM100,000) with them, some of them even offer will-writing services for free.
#8 Wills Do Not Interfere With Your KWSP(EPF) Or Insurance Policy Nominations
Unless you did not name a nominee for your KWSP(EPF) account or insurance policies, your KWSP(EPF) and insurance policies are not subjected to the direction of any of the clauses in your will.
This is because KWSP and insurance policies are governed under a different act (set of laws passed by parliament) of their own.
#9 Getting Married Automatically Revokes Your Previous Will
Any will that you have written prior to a marriage will automatically be revoked once you do. This is due to the presumption that your priorities would have changed upon marriage.
If you do not amend or make a new will after marriage and pass away unexpectedly, you will be deemed to have died intestate (without a will) and your assets will be distributed according to S6 of the Distribution Act.
The exception to this is if you were already contemplating marriage at the time you’ve written your will and have written the name of your fiancé in your will and expressly stated so.
Hence, it is advisable for you to make a new will after you get married (this applies to subsequent marriages, if any).
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DollarsAndSense Malaysia is a website that aims to help people make better financial decisions, one interesting, bite-sized article at a time. Like us on Facebook to stay in touch with our latest articles.