Hi, my name is Pua. I’m happily married with two children. I have a house, three cars, and cash savings. Is it possible to write my own will to evenly distribute my belongings to my wife and two children if I pass on prematurely? If so, is there a template that I can follow to write my will?
Let’s assume that you did write yourself a will and had passed on subsequently. So, what’s next? Here, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of Ms. Pua where I would illustrate her process of retrieving Pua’s estate from Pua’s written will.
1. Locating Pua’s Will
Where could Pua keep his will after he wrote his? Is it at home or did he put his into his private safe deposit box?
If it is placed at home, it would be easy for Mrs. Pua to have access to it. But, if it is put in a safe deposit box, does she know where it is and have access to it?
This is because if Pua’s will is placed inside the box, the contents shall fall under part of Pua’s estate and will be frozen. Since Mrs. Pua could not have access to it from Pua’s safe deposit box, he is viewed to had passed on intestate and hence, nullifying his effort in writing his own will. To Mrs. Pua, it means that the time to retrieve Pua’s estate will be delayed for another 2-3 years as the administration of Pua’s estate is carried out as if Pua did not write himself a will.
2. Executing Pua’s Will
Let’s say, Mrs. Pua manages to locate her husband’s will. So, the next question is this: ‘Who is responsible to execute the wishes stated in the will?’
Is it Mrs. Pua? Or did Pua nominated someone else to be the executor? Or worst still, he did not appoint anyone to be the executor of his will?
The roles and responsibilities of an executor are massive and they are not to be taken lightly. Simply put, an executor of a will is tasked to apply for the Grant of Probate (GP) from the High Court, collect estates, settle all of outstanding taxes and liabilities owed by the deceased, and distribute all remaining estates based on the wishes stated in the will to his beneficiaries. The whole process of estate distribution shall take at least 1-2 years, depending on the size of his estate and the efficiency of the executor in executing the will.
As such, this leads us to a few more questions:
a. Is Mrs. Pua capable and willing to act as Pua’s executor?
b. What if Mrs. Pua fails to contact Pua’s appointed executor in his will?
c. What if the executor of Pua’s will fails to carry out his duties of an executor?
This shall cause a delay in the process for Pua’s loved ones to collect his estates, possibly causing the ownership transfer to complete after 2 years and beyond.
3. Purposes of Pua’s Will
Let’s say, Pua has accumulated RM 600,000 in cash savings and his two children are minors. He intends to provide as much as RM 150,000 each for their college fees when they turn 18. So, the question is, ‘Did Pua communicate his intention to Mrs. Pua?’
This is because, if Pua passed on and Mrs. Pua is the executor and legal guardian to their two children, Mrs. Pua will collect RM 600,000 in cash. Out of which, the RM 200,000 is hers and she is to safeguard the other RM 400,000 owned by her two children as their legal guardian.
There are many instances where Mrs. Pua could have spent the money collected from Pua’s estate and thus, causing Mrs. Pua to not use the monies entrusted to fund their children’s tertiary education fees. Hence, it causes the original intent of Pua for writing a will to not be fulfilled accordingly.
Of course, if you are Pua, you could say that you trust your wife and believe she will manage the estates left behind wisely. I totally get it for my hubby loves me too and from my experiences, I realised that there are circumstances that occur which cause the monies bequeathed to be used for other purposes that are not originally prepared for. I have written about these circumstances in this article.
The Fate of Your Million-Dollar Estate
Should Pua decide the fate of his million-dollar estate with a DIY will, which can be prepared easily without any cost?
If I’m Pua, I won’t do so.
This is because, for most, DIY wills are not well-written, contain flaws, and have caused years of inconveniences and headaches to their beneficiaries.
Why take chances on your million-dollar estates and the financial future of your loved ones with a DIY will, in the name of saving a few hundred bucks? As such, given a choice, I would rather spend that few hundred bucks and make sure the will document is prepared by a qualified professional. I don’t want to screw this up by being ‘penny wise, pound foolish’ for a will is a document that can decide the fate of my own million-dollar estates and more importantly, my loved ones.
More importantly, if I’m Pua, I would explore the use of a combination of useful tools such as life insurance, will, and trust to provide my family members a true financial safety net where the estates bequeathed to them shall be managed in accordance to my intentions.
So, if that’s you, you could start by first booking a short 30-minute consultation session with our estate planning consultant where you’ll be given practical tips, ideas, and strategies to safeguard the financial future of your family. You can do so by by filling up the details below: