KUCHING (March 27): 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:
Questions 1: My husband had cancer and finally lost in the battle with it recently. He had a will done while he was hospitalised, it was a simple one as we thought it was just something that needed to be struck off from the list before my husband left.
Now that my husband has passed on, I realised that my husband’s will only use the word “children” instead of their specific names. We have two sons and I am expecting to give birth in a few months’ time. Will my youngest child be entitled to anything in my husband’s will?
Answer: We are very sorry to hear about your loss. It is a rather fortunate thing that your husband managed to write a will before his passing so he could leave behind his wealth and assets to the beneficiaries as he desired.
However, as the basic will written by him only included ‘his children’ as the beneficiaries without specifying the names of the children, while your two sons are able to inherit your late husband’s assets, your unborn child would not be considered as a beneficiary in the will and may not inherit anything from it.
Writing a will is all about ensuring our hard-earned assets can be passed down to our loved ones with minimum hassle and cost. In the market, the cost to write a will varies widely.
But always remember, a will that is cheap will not be the same as a quality one. The cost incurred later might be higher than the fee you pay now for a cheap will whereas a will that is well-crafted can avoid many legal pitfalls over time.
It is important to make sure that the words in the Will are clearly defined and reflects the testator’s intention in his/her instructions to the executor. You are advised to seek help from a professional and experienced estate planner for your will writing to ensure your wishes can be clearly reflected in your will.
A professional estate planner would know how to handle your situation, provide professional advice to you on how your instructions should be written and run through a list of your assets and beneficiaries to make sure they are able to inherit your assets as you wish.
Question 2: My son got married to a foreign lady. I thought of leaving all my assets to my son in my will, but if my son passed away later on, I do not want his wife to inherit all my assets while going back to her home country. Is there anything that can be done?
Answer: As your main intention is to benefit your son, you can write a will to will away all your assets to your son. In your will, you can have some special instructions in the will that form a ‘testamentary trust’.
By including this testamentary trust, you may state that a trustee is to hold your son’s inheritance on trust until your son’s demise, and thereafter to distribute to his children. This is to prevent your daughter-in-law from having access to your son’s inheritance.
Assuming you have a house for your son that you do not want his wife to inherit when your son passes away, you can create a testamentary trust for that house to benefit only your son and any other beneficiaries you choose.
Upon your passing, the house will be held on trust by the trustee allowing your son and any other beneficiaries to reside in it rent-free during his lifetime or so long as he wishes. As he does not have the ownership of the house, this can prevent his wife from inheriting it or forcing him to sell it off.
Upon his passing, the house will be transferred to his children or whoever you intend to give to. You may give your son the discretion whether to sell off the house during his lifetime and the proceeds could be held on trust solely for your son’s wellbeing until he passes away.
Any balance left of the proceeds can be held on trust for your son’s children or given to another person or charity. By doing so, you can prevent the property from going to your daughter-in-law. A similar arrangement can be done for your other assets as well to protect those assets from unintended beneficiaries.
A will with testamentary trust does not require you to only put in high value assets, it can be any asset that you think is important for your family’s future. Such instructions are very common among people who want to give serious thought to making a good estate plan to protect their loved ones.
Thus, it is crucial to seek a professional estate planner to assist with your will. With a testamentary trust in the will, you can make sure your legacy can be enjoyed by your son while putting it out of reach of anyone you do not intend to benefit.
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@example.com or Rockwills’ training and business development assistant general manager Sam Chan (firstname.lastname@example.org).