I had my Will done even before my child was born. Having a Will is important as I want my kid, my wife and my parents to be taken care off should anything untoward happen to me. Therefore, it is for my own peace of mind to get my Will done early. Mine was done by a Rockwills’s will writing team and kept there for a lifetime custody.
What is a Will?
A Will is a document done by a person stating his last wishes or instructions. The person making the Will is called a “testator.” The testator can document his last instructions pertaining to various issues such as the division or distribution of his estate, choosing a guardian for his young children and appointing a trusted and capable person as the “executor” of the Will.
A Will makes it easy to specify which assets go to whom. The deceased person’s estate including money, properties, shares, collectibles or jewelries go to the selected beneficiaries. For example, he can leave one property to one child and a second property to another child, thus ensuring there is no dispute later on.
The best thing about a Will is that a person does not lose control over all his assets, properties or valuables that are stated in the Will. The person can dispose off any of his assets anytime during his lifetime. The executor will carry out the instructions written in the Will only upon the testator’s death.
Write a comprehensive Will
Writing a comprehensive Will is important where a testator should list down all his assets, liquid as well as illiquid assets. Examples of liquid assets are savings account, investment account, fixed deposits, unit trust funds, shares and bonds. Examples of illiquid assets are landed properties, land tracts, collectibles, vehicles and jewelries.
Having proper details of each assets are important, for example the details found on a title deed or the S & P agreement of a house. The testator can also put in a residuary clause in his Will to include assets that are acquired in the future or any future inheritances.
What happens if you do not have a Will?
If a person dies without a Will (dies intestate), his estate will be distributed or divided according to the governing laws. For West Malaysia and Sarawak, it is the Distribution Act 1958 (Amended in 1997) and for Sabah, it is the Intestate Succession Ordinance (1960).
What if there is a Will but it is not comprehensive enough?
Well, the executor of the Will is going to be saddled with the difficult and complicated task of trying to understand and comply with all the instructions written in the Will. The executor may even have to do some intensive and extensive investigation work not unlike the character Sherlock Holmes, to gather all information pertaining to the deceased person’s estate.
Nobody can put a time estimate on how long this process would take, which could be years. On top of that, the executor may even have to engage a third party to do the search to locate all the deceased person’s assets and incurring unnecessary expenses in the process. It could be years down the road before some assets are discovered. There is also a high possibility that some assets would never be found, remaining hidden forever. This is not an unusual situation as it has been reported that there is RM42 billion of unclaimed assets in existence.
What are the consequences of this situation? Well, the major consequence is that the beneficiaries will be deprived of their inheritance. The beneficiaries, who could be the surviving children of the deceased will have a lengthy wait to benefit from their inheritance.
Hence, having a comprehensive Will is going to hasten the distribution of the deceased person’s assets, simplify the job of the executor to carry out all the instructions, ensure all assets are distributed accordingly and to the right people and ensure no assets are left out or overlooked.
If the testator is worried about irresponsible beneficiaries who may squander their inheritance, he can set up a testamentary trust in his Will. This will allow for the distribution of assets, especially liquid assets according to a fixed time schedule. For example, the beneficiaries will receive a certain sum or percentage of money every three or five years.
The periodical payment of money instead of one lump sum may work best especially when minor children (underage) are involved. In addition, the testator may also include a set of conditions to be met by the beneficiaries in order to be entitled to their inheritance.
From the above, one can understand why a comprehensive Will is useful to ensure a proper and efficient handling of a deceased person’s estate. Keep in mind that ensuring a proper wealth distribution is part of good financial planning to safeguard a person’s wealth into the future.
Reference: Saw, L. A. (2003). Guide to Planning Your Will Effectively. 4th Ed. Selangor: Leeds Publications.