Ask and We WILL Answer: December 17, 2023

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The Borneo Post with the expert help of Rockwills Trustee Bhd, the leading specialist in estate planning having pioneered wills and trust 28 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 am a single father with two daughters. My younger daughter is partially disabled ever since the accident that cause my wife’s death. My eldest daughter is going to get married soon.

I hope to give both of them all my assets, but I don’t trust her husband and I am also worried she won’t be able to take care of her younger sister when I’m no longer around. How do I resolve this?

Answer: We strongly advise you to consider writing a will that includes a testamentary trust to safeguard your assets and provide for both of your daughters’ futures. In a Will, you can list down your instructions on how to distribute your assets to your beneficiaries.

It is also crucial to appoint a reliable executor, someone who can responsibly manage and distribute your assets following your wishes when you are no longer around.

To prevent the potential conflicts between your daughters, you might consider appointing a trustee company, such as Rockwills, to ensure impartial and professional management.

Given your younger daughter’s disability, it is wise to include specific provisions within your Will to ensure her ongoing care, medical needs, and overall well-being are adequately addressed.

Moreover, to address your concerns about your eldest daughter’s marriage and her ability to take care of her younger sister, you can include specific clauses in Will to prevent her husband from gaining access to the trust assets and to make sure the eldest sister will continue to take care of the younger sister in order to receive your assets.

Indeed, having a comprehensive estate planning with clear distribution instructions definitely can make sure your hard-earned assets go to your intended beneficiaries following your wishes.

It is essential to keep your estate plan up to date with regular reviews, and we also encourage you to have an open communication with your daughters about your intentions. This will then provide you a peace of mind that your daughters’ financial security and well-being are protected, no matter what the future holds.

 

Question 2: When I pass away, can I leave everything to my eldest son as the executor to decide who gets what? Basically, I want him to be in charge of everything.

Answer: In order for your son to do so, you will have to state in your Will, that he has discretion in deciding how to distribute to specified beneficiaries. This approach obviously relies on your trust in your son’s responsible decision-making. Nevertheless, there are crucial considerations to bear in mind.

Firstly, while granting your son discretion in deciding the distribution, it is crucial to clearly communicate that he must be impartial. Failure to do so may lead to disputes among beneficiaries.

If there are beneficiaries who may not get along or could dispute your son’s decisions, his position might lead to emotional distress. Therefore, ensure that your son can remain impartial and fair in carrying out his duties.

Secondly, entrusting all your assets to your son means he will be responsible for distributing them to the beneficiaries. However, estate distribution can be a complex and time-consuming process. Hence, ensure that your son is willing to take on the role and is capable of handling the responsibilities it entails.

Thirdly, consider what would be the next course of action if your son is unable or unwilling to fulfill the role when the time comes.

If you don’t have anyone you can entrust your assets to, it is a good idea to consider appointing a reliable and trustworthy trustee company to ensure your wishes are executed.

If a trust company is appointed, you’ll need to make decisions on who gets what.

Lastly, where properties are concerned, your son will likely need to obtain a court order to transfer each of the properties to the beneficiaries selected by your son.

This is because your Will did not indicate the beneficiaries for the properties and as such the Land Office will not have any reference to whom the properties are to be transferred to. Legal fees will be incurred to do so.

It is important to remember that allowing your son to be in charge of all the assets is entirely permissible. However, this process should be undertaken with careful consideration.

Ideally, this arrangement can be made with the assistance of professional Estate Planners. Seeking the advice of professional estate planners will address all the considerations above, ensuring that your wishes are carried out in accordance with the law and with minimal risk of disputes.

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 ([email protected]).