Why, when, and how to get your legal will and testament written for your peace of mind and your loved ones.
Updated: Apr 10, 2018
Writing Your Will
A will is a legal document that sets forth your wishes regarding distribution of your assets, property, etc and care of minor children (if any). To ensure that your wishes are carried out, a will needs to be set forth in writing signed by you and your witnesses. It is important to make sure that your will meets the standards as otherwise your instructions may not be carried out.
- A legal will is important as it tell others your wishes during a health crisis or upon passing
- It distributes your assets & gifts in accordance to your wishes
- It helps prevent/reduce family conflicts
- If you have children below 18, you can appoint a trustworthy guardian to protect the welfare & interests of your children
- If you are above 18 & of sound mind, you can write your own will
- It is increasingly common & recommended to write your own will even when young as long as you have any assets at all under your name & not wait until your 60s or 70s in case something untoward happens unexpectedly
- You will require at least 1 Executor, 2 Witnesses & Trustee(s) (if necessary for minors below 18 and/or a trust fund)
- In Malaysia (as in many countries), you can legally write your own will as long as you ensure that it meets legal requirements. Suggested to write your own will when you have limited, uncomplicated assets & want to leave your assets to only one or two people.
- You can opt engage a lawyer that handles will writing services. Do check how many will writing cases the lawyer handles per year to gauge the lawyer’s expertise.
- You can opt to engage a will writing professional service that specializes in will writing. It may often be more cost effective due to it being a specialized service niche. Will keeping & trustee services are also provided for an additional charge.
- Your named beneficiaries will receive your possessions as you deem fit
- Consider setting up a trust as it helps your heirs receive assets quicker & without expensive & time-consuming legal processes
- Your EPF savings & insurance will have nominees named & will automatically go to them
Reviewing & Updating
- Significant changes to your assets & possessions
- Changes in relationships: death, marriage, divorce, new children or grandchildren
- Review every 3-5 years
Will Drafting Process
- Your full name, NRIC number and address;
- The name, NRIC number and address of your executor(s) (1 or 2 person);
- The name, NRIC number and relationship of your beneficiaries and the assets to be given to each (it can be as general as all your assets goes to your spouse and if the spouse does not survive you, to your children in equal shares).
With those info, we can draft your will and send a draft to you. Will writing is very affordable starting from RM500 for a simple will.
Write Your Will Today!
Q: How can a will be contested?
A will can be contested on the following grounds:-
- Will is a forgery.
- Will written when not in sound mind.
- Will not written in person’s intention (or forced).
- Child not given anything (contested under family act).
Q: What are a will’s requirements?
Handwritten or typewritten in any language (But if not in English, translation must be certified by court)
Signed (or thumbprint) by testator (will maker)
Witnessed by at least 2 witnesses who witness the testator’s signature & sign in presence of testator & each other. Witness does not need to know the will’s contents. Witness should not be a beneficiary otherwise will lose all benefits in the will.
Q: What is the Executor’s role?
Locate the Will
Make funeral arrangement (if necessary)
Apply for Grant of Probate (GP)
Call in Assets
Clear Debts & Liabilities
Prepare a statement of account
Distribute assets according to will
Note: You can have 1 to 4 executors with one required for application of probate
Q: What is the Trustee’s role?
Administer the estate when properties cannot be distributed (E.g. minor under 18 OR until trust period ends)
Manage estate according to instructions & powers given by the Will according to the Trustee Act
Trustees cannot benefit personally from the role
Q: What should I appoint different persons as Trustee & Guardian for my children?
Trustees holds the assets for your children
Guardian takes care of the welfare or your children
Having different persons will help ensure check & balance
Q: Is a will revoked by marriage or divorce?
Marriage: Yes (unless with ‘contemplation of marriage’ clause)
Q: What may not be included in a will?
EPF where nominee has been named
Insurance policies with nomination
Assets held in a trust
Q: What is the difference between a Grant of Probate (GP) or Letter of Administration (LA)?
GP: With will written, a court order that allows Executor to administer deceased person’s will. Takes 3-12 mths.
LA: With there is no will, an application is required for a LA to unlock a deceased person’s frozen estate. Takes 2-5 years.
Q: What are the common trusts?
Education Trust Fund for children
Maintenance Trust Fund for parents
Maintenance Trust Fund for spouse
Trust Fund for handicapped family members
Charitable Trust Fund on charity expenses
Q: Will there be charges for changing the will?
A: It depends. Rest assured that it will be minimal/no charges for minor changes. Will changes are typically made upon re/marriage, divorce/separation, birth/death of beneficiary, significant change in assets/estate.
Q: Is my executor entitled to payment from the estate?
Yes. Your executor & trustee is entitled to deduct a reasonable estate expense incurred for administering your estate including legal fees. A professional legal firm or trust company will typically charge a fee for acting as executor and trustee. Even if your relative or friend is administering the estate, they are entitled to a reasonable fee.
Q: What is a soldier’s will?
An informal privileged will for soldiers, airmen & sailors (read more)