In my years of estate planning practices, it is common to find a:
- Property Owner who assumes that his / her spouse could automatically inherit the property in full upon his / her death.
- Spouse of a Property Owner who believes that he / she shall inherit the property automatically in full upon his / her spouse’s death.
Such assumptions are false.
For non-Muslims in Malaysia, the distribution method of a property upon death of its owner shall be determined by the existence of a will.
So, if the owner wrote a will to bequeath the property to his / her spouse, then, the property ownership shall be transferred accordingly. But, the process would take time and thus, it is not “automatic”.
But, if there is no will, the property will be distributed to his / her next-of-kin. In accordance to the Distribution Act 1958, its ownership shall be split to:
- Parents (25%); Spouse (25%); Children (50%).
- Parents (50%); Spouse (50%).
- Spouse (1/3); Children (2/3).
- Parents (1/3); Children (2/3).
As such, property owners who has made the assumption above could bequeath their properties to “unintended beneficiaries”. Spouses of property owners also could “unexpectedly” not be sole but co-heirs to their spouses’ properties. That may result in disappointments and tensions when managing these properties.
Therefore, the main takeaway is this –
If you wish to be certain that your spouse will inherit your property in full, then, you should write a will to specify your intention. You could start by filling in your details to book a 30-minute consultation, either via online or phone, to work on the details of your estate plan.