BORNEO POST with the expert help of Rockwills Trustee Bhd, the leading specialist in estate planning having pioneered wills and trust 26 years ago, is publishing a regular Q & A column on estate planning. It will feature questions which readers have in mind but don’t know who to ask:
Question 1: I have made a couple of loans to my friends over the years. I do not chase them for repayments as I believe they will pay me back when they can afford to. After all, they are my friends and I am not really in need of the money. I am considering writing a will recently, especially when the Covid pandemic does not seem to have an end. Can I mention it in my will so that my family is aware of these debts?
Rockwills Answer: You can include the debts owed to you in your will and instruct who shall receive the repayments as a beneficiary once your executor has managed to recover them.
To ease the difficulties your appointed executor may face when collecting these debts, it is important that you provide as many details as possible regarding the debts.
It is also important that you indicate to your executor where he can find the proof of debts in case there are disputes regarding the debts. You should also consider whether the person whom you intend to appoint as your executor is comfortable to carry out the tasks.
Debt collection is never going to be pleasant, and it could take time. Beneficiaries who are anticipating the repayment might give pressure on your Executor as well.
Considering the degree of difficulty in recovering those debts, you should consider appointing a licensed trust company that specialises in estate administration.
Having a professional trustee to handle the process could be more effective and save your family members from uncomfortable situations in dealing with family friends.
Question 2: My brother has been talking to my father a lot recently, asking him to write his will. I am concerned that my brother is trying to influence my father to leave everything to him. I believe my father should make his own decisions. I do not want my brother to influence my father on how he should give his assets away, what should I do?
Rockwills Answer: A will represents the wishes of the testator hence should be made without any undue influence from another person. A will made under undue influence, where the testator may have been pressured or coerced into writing their will, could be invalidated.
It is crucial that the testator’s intentions are reflected clearly in the Will as the instructions to the Executor that crystalise upon the death of the testator.
We have encountered many instances where the family members of our clients try to either dictate or influence the naming of beneficiaries in the will.
Our estate planners have been well trained to prioritise the integrity of the profession and will insist on taking instructions directly from the testator himself.
With that being said, if your father eventually decides to write a will, do seek help from a professional and experienced estate planner. A professional estate planner would know how to handle the situation and provide professional advice to your father for his Will writing.
This Q&A Column in published as a joint public service and educational initiative with Rockwills Trustee Bhd. Please email your questions related to estate planning to [email protected] or Rockwills’ training and business development assistant general manager Sam Chan at [email protected]