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: My father has written a will. Should he pass away, is there a time limit as to when I should process his will? Is there anything that I need to take note of?
Answer: Assuming that you are being appointed as the executor, although there is no time limit to start the probate process of a will, the earlier the executor starts the process, the lower the risk the executor may have to face.
Prompt application can ensure the assets in the Will can be distributed without unnecessary delays. Nevertheless, If the executor processes it more than three years after the death of the testator, the court will require a reason for the late application from the executor.
As the executor, you need to locate the two witnesses of the will to sign the affidavit and prepare the lists of assets and liabilities of your father to apply for the Grant of Probate. Funding will also need to be secured to engage a lawyer for the Probate application.
Other than this, your commitment to time is crucial as well. You need to ensure that you are always available during the entire estate administration process which may take a few years to complete, depending on the complexity of the estate. An executor could delay the entire estate administration process due to other personal commitments.
The job as an executor also requires a multitude of skills and knowledge in handling legal, tax, and accounting matters with local authorities such as land office, EPF office, Inland Revenue (LHDN), banks, insurance companies, debtors, creditors, Bursa Saham, company secretary etc.
Due to this, many executors out there would have no choice but to incur higher costs to the estate to hire relevant professionals to assist them.
While there is no fixed formula or set of rules for being an executor, there is a rule of thumb that the executor should always act in the best interest of the estate.
Nevertheless, things will be much easier for your family if your father has appointed a licensed trustee company as his Executor in Will. All you have to do is inform the Trust Company when your father has passed away, then they will take care of the rest.
Question 2: My aunt lost her eyesight due to the car accident a few years ago. Would her blindness cause any issues if she wants to write a Will?
Answer: A blind person can write a Will as long as he or she has the mental capacity. Thus, your aunt’s blindness should not affect her ability to make a will. However, due to her blindness, she might not be able to sign the Will by signature properly.
Instead, she can use her thumbprint. In any case, she should get the witnesses to verify that she is signing or affixing her thumbprint at the right place. We suggest that she look for an experienced estate planner who knows what precautionary steps to take in preparing her will such as videotaping the thumbprinting process. This will avoid challenge to the validity of her will later.
Everyone is encouraged to plan and write a will as early as possible, as we cannot foresee what will happen next. A will is not something you should only do when something untoward has happened. It should be done in view that anything can happen to us without warning. As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or Rockwills’ training and business development assistant general manager Sam Chan (email@example.com).