Will you, Will you not?

Today’s topic is not anything about “will you marry him/her or not”, neither is it about “will you do something or not”, but….a person’s last wishes through the simplest form of legal document i.e. the Will. I’ll do my best to make it as simple as possible.

Speaking of the Will is no longer a taboo these days; with many families conflicts unfolded in the media and around us. Many came to understand that it is necessary now to make prior arrangements and wishes, so that the living ones would not have to suffer unnecessarily.

Some of you might have experienced or witnessed some sort of complications related to wealth distribution when a family member passed on. Besides having to deal with emotional  loss, one was forced to deal with the estate  issues (assets belonging to the deceased person would be referred to as “estate”). Time like this often brought family members closer together but sometimes, it might tear family ties apart.

A will is a document which records all your wishes on how and who do you want to pass on your wealth to. It also facilitates the family to execute the distribution process as quickly as legally possible. For families with minor children, it is also for you to appoint your choice of legal guardian, in the event of death of a parent(s). Do remember to appoint an Executor(s) as well, a trusted person who carries out all the necessary leg works, documentation and distribution works. I would not go into details and technicalities of will writing, as I trust your Financial Planner, Lawyer or Will Writer would best advice you on your circumstances.

Having said that, when you are ready to write a will, sit down to list all items concerned and do some planning for it. There are areas which a Will has its limitations. Identify the limitations and find solutions with your professional advisors. There are other estate planning tools which could be used, to ensure that your wishes are carried out accordingly.

Oh yes, please pay attention to joint-named assets (liquid and fixed assets). In Malaysia, for house ownership and bank accounts, the surviving co-owner would not automatically assume full ownership when the other passed on. You have to will away your portion if you want the co-owner to have it all. However, for bank loans, the co-borrower would assume full responsibility to ensure instalment payments are honoured till the end. That is the reason why Banks, Planners/Advisors advised borrowers to take up Mortgage Protection Insurance (MRTA/MLTA/MRTT, etc) when you have housing loan(s).

As for the Muslims, you may choose to write a Wasiyyah (Islamic Will) for only 1/3 of your assets to non-waris (non-heirs). Include Wisoyah, appointment of an Executor, and if you wish you can also include Waqf in your planning.

Without a Will, for the non-muslims, the estate would be distributed according to the Distribution Act; with  an Administrator to do the legs works, documentation and distribution accordingly. For the Muslims, estate distribution will be according to the Faraid ratio.

For those who have not written your will, please give it a thought, especially if you have young family or you have specific wishes to pass on. Will planning is not that difficult after all. It helps ease your mind and those of your family members. Find out more from your professional advisors.

I’ll leave this thought with you. Signing off now and may you have a wonderful evening.

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