Will writing is not new. It has been around for centuries and exist in many cultures around the world. However it is a taboo subject for many to talk about this and death in general. In Malaysia most people don’t want to be associated with any topic that has to do with death. So talking about creating a will for our parents or even for friends and family is quite challenging. So what happens if a person dies without a will? We assume the spouse or the mother or a living family member automatically gets ownership of all possessions of the deceased. This is not necessarily true. You may run into legal complications when a person die without leaving a will.
There’s actually a term for someone who dies without a will. He or she will be said to have died intestate. So, what happens to a person’s property in cases like this? This is clearly define in the Distribution Act 1958. Since there’s no legally defined document on who gets what then the question becomes who gets what?
We received emails from the public asking questions like catch my property because my family member died without leaving a will behind? This is a general misconception. The government does not just step in to take whatever they want whenever they want. In most cases when a person dies interstate the property will go to the surviving family members. But it goes in the order of spouse, children then parents. Suppose the interstate does not have immediate family members then the distribution will go to the extended family like grandparents, uncles and aunts and so on.
In cases where the interstate dies without any surviving family member and no one comes around to make a claim then the government will step in. But if the family members are around, then the government can’t get involved. The law has already decided on how the property will be distributed. A list of how much each family member gets can be found in the Distribution Act 1958.
“Issue” in the table above refers to the child of the deceased or his or her grandchildren. In the glossary of the Distribution Act 1958, it says:
“issue” includes children and the descendants of deceased children;
But the child must be legitimate, or else he or she will not be able to get the property of the deceased. Section 3 of the Act says:
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires— “child” means a legitimate child and where the deceased is permitted by his personal law a plurality of wives includes a child by any of such wives, but does not include an adopted child other than a child adopted under the provisions of the Adoption Act 1952 [Act 257];
But the point we are trying to make here is DO NOT WAIT UNTIL IT COMES TO THIS. Take action now and write your will today.