In Malaysia, more than 70% of adults do not have a Last Will in place, but of those who do, most are not updated on a regular basis. It is a dangerous misconception to think that once you have a Last Will in place, it will serve you for the rest of your life. I’ve mentioned this several times before, a will is not a one-time task.
I meet many people and I usually tell them I am associated with the WillsMalaysia websites and it is just frightening how often I hear statements like “Oh, I have my Last Will written already, it was prepared before Jason and Alison were born”. In other words, the Last Will is obsolete because it doesn’t include critical information about minor trusts and guardians for the children. If only they know this, sad. The whole distribution of property section is almost useless if it doesn’t include the minor children as alternate beneficiaries.
We feel that at a minimum the Last Will has to be updated at every life event. What is a life event? Marriage, divorce, children, death and many more critical events. What if your beneficiaries pre-deceases you or your first choice plan cannot be followed. There could be changes in your business life or your financial situation. Your Executor’s situation or the value of your assets might have changed. How about if you bought or sold a property. There could be many reasons to update the Last Will. At WillsMalaysia we highly recommend reviewing your Last Will at least once a year. Maybe on your birthday or on New Year’s Day. You choose but choose a day.
If you are one of those who paid a lawyer hundreds of Ringgit to prepare your Last Will, the question I ask you is for how long that is valid? A few months or a few years? But it could last less than a day if any of these life events happen to you as you walk out of the lawyer’s office. My brother died at a young age of 49, he was to be my Executor. Realistically, your Last Will is going to be a useful expression of your wishes for several months, maybe a couple of years to be exact.
Then come the question how do you update your Last Will? The two common mistakes we came across and which is a big no is to write on the Last Will. Don’t do it, even if the change is a small one; it will be impossible to know who made the update and when, and it is an invitation to be challenged in court.
The second is preparing a codicil or an addendum which is a piece of paper listing the amendments that is then attached to the Will. Again this is an invitation to be challenged in court.
With today’s technology, and certainly if you use an online interactive service, you should just create a brand new Will. You can usually just log into your account, make the change that you need, print a new version, sign it in the presence of witnesses and then destroy your old Will. You will then have an up-to-date legal Last Will and Testament. That’s exactly what we offer at WillsMalaysia and all updates are FREE.
Imagine if you have to walk to your lawyer’s office each time there is a life event. Well while I’m sure your lawyer will be happy to entertain you but I bet it will not be for free.