John said to his family in the meeting “I think we can only decide how best to deal with father’s estate once I receive news from Dave, our lawyer, regarding Connie’s claim on his estate.” Before the meeting ended Mrs Patricia Lee said to John in anger “Find out for me who this woman is and her claim as soon as possible. I wonder whether this is your father’s reward to me after all these years of marriage and loyalty.” She further asked her children “so are you guys still going to fight over the appointment of Administrators?” Sandy then asked “Mum, what do you have in mind?” Patricia replied, “I suggest that John and Michele be appointed as joint administrators of the estate, and since Dave mentioned we need Guarantors, then John and I will be the Guarantors. Are you people okay with my suggestion? If you people are agreeable, then we still have to hear from Dave whether your father’s so called second wife and her children are also the beneficiaries of the estate. If it is, god knows what will happen next!” Nick and Sandy were uncomfortable with the suggestion of the appointment of Administrators but finally agreed with the rest out of respect for their mum.
After the meeting, John quickly phoned Dave and said “Hi Dave, I just finished my meeting with my family. Mum is really upset now. Can you please check on Connie’s claim as soon as possible?”
When they met in Dave’s office, Dave said to John “I have checked Connie’s documents. The will is invalid due to only one witness signing. The requirement of two witnesses to sign is clearly defined in Section 5 (2) of the Wills Act, 1959. However, I have yet to verify whether the marriage between your father and Connie was in 1980 because any marriage before March 1982, whether registered or customary, is considered legal. This is stated in Section 4 of the Law Reform (Marriage & Divorce) Act, 1976. Your father’s name on the birth certificates specifying him as the father of the three sons is genuine. The ages of these children are 10, 12 and 15.” “So does it mean that if it is proven that their marriage was before March 1982, then Connie and her three children stand to inherit my father’s fortune?” asked John. Dave replied “yes” and further said “since your father’s parents have passed away then your mother and Connie will share the one-third entitlement of your father’s estate while two-thirds will be shared by you, your five siblings, and your three step siblings who are still minors. This distribution is stated in Section 6(1) of the Malaysian Distribution (Amendment) Act, 1997. Another thing is the appointment of administrators for your father’s estate would also require the consent of Connie and her three children. This is stated in Section 30 of the Probate & Administration Act, 1959 with the approval of the court. “Oh my God, what has Father got us into” said John. “So, what shall we do now?” John asked Dave. Dave said “since I have her contact number on her letter, why not let me make an appointment to meet up with Connie on your behalf and find out more on her status before we decide on the next course of action.” John agreed and asked Dave to proceed with it.
To be continued…
Peter Lee is an Associate Estate Planning Practitioner (Wills & Trust) with Rockwills International Group. He is also an Islamic Estate Planner providing Wills & Trust services for Muslims. He is based in Ipoh and can be reached at: 2nd Floor, 108 Jalan Raja Ekram (Cowan St.), 30450 Ipoh. Tel.: 012‑5078825/ 05‑2554853 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://www.wills-trust.com.my. (Peter Lee’s column appears monthly.)