"Never leave without a Will."
Most people know that they should have a Will, but many are unsure where or how to start. If you are one of them, read on for some basic information.
What is a Will?
A Will is a formal and witnessed document by which the person making the Will ("Testator") expresses his or her wishes as to how his or her property or possession (hereinafter referred to as the "estate") is to be distributed upon their death. It also names one or more persons to manage the estate ("Executor") until its final distribution. The Will only takes effect upon your death, and you still retain control over your properties or possessions even after writing your Will.
A person who dies having made a valid Will is said to have died 'testate'; and one who dies without having made a valid Will is said to have died 'intestate'.
Do you need a Will?
Yes. Everyone should have a Will no matter how big or small the estate is. There are more advantages than disadvantages for making a Will. Not only does your Will set out your wishes as to the distribution of your estate upon your death, it also speeds up the process of distribution as an application for grant of probate takes lesser time than an application for grant of letter of administration due to additional legal requirements to be complied with.
Can I change my mind after making a Will?
Yes. As the Will only takes effect upon your death, you can change or revoke your Will any time after making a Will and before your death. Your right to change or revoke a Will can only be challenged if your mental capacity when changing or revoking the Will is called into question.
You can either make a codicil or make a new Will. A person may make as many Wills as he wishes, but the only relevant Will is the last valid Will made before his death.
Circumstances in which you should update your Will
In general, there are certain circumstances in which you should update your Will. Firstly, your Will shall be revoked if you marry, unless your Will was made in contemplation of the marriage. You should also consider updating your Will when there is a newborn baby. You should also update your Will when there is a relationship breakdown or when you have health problem.
Will my Will be challenged by any party?
Generally, most Wills are not disputed. However, should a disagreement arise, it must be settled in court. As Wills can in fact be challenged, it is therefore important that your Will is made in the simplest and most straightforward language.
Distribution of estates for a person who dies intestate
If you die without having made a valid Will, you die intestate. In such case, the distribution of your estates will be in accordance with the relevant laws. In West Malaysia, the law governing the distribution of estates for non-Muslim persons who die intestate can be found in the Distribution Act 1958 (as amended by the Distribution (Amendment) Act 1997).
You can of course leave the distribution of your estates to the law, but you may not like the way the law determines how your estates are to be distributed.
Consult your lawyers for more information
The above information may not cover all aspects. It is strongly advisable to consult a lawyer before writing your Will, or if you already have an existing Will, for further information or clarification on your Will.
The articles published and contained herein are for general informational purposes only. They do not and are not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice or opinion of any kind in any manner whatsoever.
TEH & YU is a general practice law firm located in Mont Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Schedule an appointment with us and let us know how we can help.
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