First of all, what is a will?
Section 2 of the Wills Act 1959 defines a will in technical terms as
“a declaration intended to have legal effect of the intentions of a testator with respect to his property or other matters which he desires to be carried into effect after his death and includes a testament, a codicil and an appointment by will or by writing in the nature of a will in exercise of a power and also a disposition by will or testament of the guardianship, custody and tuition of any child.”
In the ordinary language, a WILL is a document which contains the wishes of a person which takes effect upon the death of the person who executed the will.
There are specific requirements of formalities for a will to be valid. Further, the wishes of the person who executed the will must be very clear as to his intentions and practicality to provide for any eventualities that may take place.
7 Advantages of Making A Will
- Choose your beneficiaries and how your assets are to be distributed; It means you can freely choose the beneficiaries and the portion that you would like them to inherit.
- Choose your trustee and executors to administer your estate;
- Choose the guardian of your minor children;
- Minimise the chances of family disputes over property;
- Speed up the distribution process considerably;
- Reduce the costs of administering your estate;
- Express your wishes for your funeral arrangements.
The above-stated advantages are important to make life simpler for your loved ones. However, if one do not have a Will, the law will step in to help you to distribute your assets.
What Will Happen If You Die Without A Will?
If you die intestate (without a will):-
a) Your assets will be distributed according to the formulas set out in the Distribution Act 1958, and not according to your wishes or the needs of your family members;
b) The court will appoint a trustee and executor to administer your estate, and this may give rise to disputes between family members or beneficiaries on who should be appointed;
c) The court will appoint a guardian for your minor children, and the person appointed may not be your preference;
d) The distribution process will take longer and cost more, ordinarily requiring a bond and the appointment of 2 sureties to guarantee the proper administration of the estate, as well as further court orders to effect the transfer of real property. You need to apply for exemption of bond.
In a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy, 1789, which was re-printed in The Works of Benjamin Franklin, 1817, Benjamin Franklin stated that:
Life is uncertain and it is better to be safe and prepare for it than to let our loved ones suffer after our passing away.
In conclusion, the advantages of leaving a Will can give a hand to chart your legacy for your loved ones.
by Cyrus Tiu Foo Woei, LLM (Malaya), LLB (Hons) London, CLP, Dispute Resolution Partner
DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.