Question:


Hi, my name is Pei Ni. I’m a 40-year old divorcee. As I write, I’m residing with my mother and two children, Li Bai and Li Lin aged 10 and 5, in my condominium at
Sri Petaling. Presently, I work for a Multinational Corporation (MNC) as its Head of Marketing and the job requires me to travel frequently across the Asia Pacific region. As such, my mother takes care of my children when I’m away for work.

If I pass on prematurely, I intend to:

a. Continue to provide for the living expenses for my two children.

b. Fund RM 200,000 each for my children’s tertiary education fees.

c. Bequeath my condominium to my children when Li Lin hits 25.


In view of this, should I: 

a. Have a life insurance policy with a sum assured of RM 1 million and nominate my two children as beneficiaries of the policy? 

b. Write a will to leave the ownership title of my property to my two children? 


Answer: 

Let’s start with the life insurance policy. 

The answer is nope, especially if you do not intend your ex-husband, who is the father of your children, to receive the sum assured of RM 1 million and manage it on behalf of your two children. 

Why? This is because if your children are below 18 years old when you pass on, your ex-husband may receive the sum assured as your children’s legal guardian. Then, he may choose to use the money according to his wishes, which may not be based on your purpose for buying the life insurance policy in the first place. 


How Not to Let The Sum Assured Fall into Your Ex-Husband’s Hands … 

For Pei Ni, it is simple. She can set up an insurance trust to safeguard the future of her two children. Instead of nominating them as beneficiaries, it is better for Pei Ni to assign her RM 1 million policy to her trust where she can name both Li Bai and Li Lin to be her beneficiaries of her trust. In addition, Pei Ni could name her mother to be the guardian of her two children. 

In the event of her passing or her becoming permanently disabled or comatose at a future date, the money shall be paid to her trust. Her trustee could then be making the payouts in accordance with Pei Ni’s instructions which include: 

a. A fixed monthly payment to Pei Ni’s mother (the guardian), where she can be using it to fund living expenses for herself and her two grandchildren.

b. A periodic payout to Li Bai’s and Li Lin’s choice of university to make payment for their semester fees. 

Hence, this ensures that your ex-husband shall not have his hands onto the RM 1 million prepared for your two children. 


How about the Condominium? 

Yes, Pei Ni may write herself a will to bequeath her property to her children. 

But, in her case, the title ownership of her property shall be handed over to her children when they hit 18 years old, the legal age to inherit assets in Malaysia. 

Here is an issue. Most likely, at 18, Li Bai and Li Lin may not necessarily have the maturity needed to manage assets such as real estate, shares of businesses and cash, lots of it, for they have only just finished middle school. 

Thus, in her will, Pei Ni could add in a testamentary trust to manage her estates according to her wishes. 


So, What is a Testamentary Trust? 

Testamentary trust is a type of trust that is specified in a will and will come into effect upon the testator’s (the person who writes the will) death. 

It allows Pei Ni to have a say in how her property is to be managed if she passes on. Hence, let’s say, Pei Ni wishes to let her mother live in her condominium till she passes on. Pei Ni could set up her testamentary trust for her property when upon her passing: 

a. The title of the property shall first be transferred to her testamentary trust.

b. Pei Ni’s mother could be nominated as its living tenant of the property. Thus, the property’s title shall be kept within the trustee for as long as she lives.

c. The property title shall then be bequeathed to Li Bai and Li Lin if two criterias had been fulfilled. First, Pei Ni’s mother had passed on. Second, Li Lin has hit 25 years old. Thus, if Pei Ni’s mother had passed on. Then, both children would be entitled for their mother’s property when Li Lin hits 25. 

With a testamentary trust set up within her will, it offers Pei Ni greater peace of mind as she knows that her mother has a permanent residency in her property for life. Also, she would be able to leave her property to her children when they possess greater maturity in handling the estate at a much older age, thus, could reduce the risk of her estate being mismanaged. 


Conclusion: 

In brief, it is not easy for a divorcee to provide financially and care for her loved ones. An unfortunate event such as death, disability and being comatose would add financial insecurities to her family, particularly if she has little children. As I write, it is still common for parents, including divorcees, to nominate their own children as beneficiaries of their life insurance policies to safeguard their future financially. But apparently, that effort alone is insufficient to do so. 

Ideally, it is better to use a combination of insurance, will and trust to fully offer an ironclad financial security to your loved ones. This is especially true if today, you are a divorcee who is now caring for your parents and your children. If that is you, you may book yourself an appointment with our consultant by filling up the details below:


Jocelline Chee
Jocelline Chee

As a Full-time Senior Professional Estate Planner, Jocelline seeks to understand every client’s unique asset holdings and legacy wishes, before recommending a suitable Will and/or Trust structure to meet their needs. She is well-equipped to point out various blindspots in Legacy Planning, that her clients may have. With Jocelline, you can be assured that your legacy planning journey will feel more like having an open-hearted coffee session with a trusted friend, as compared to a formal and awkward session with an equipped advisor.

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