More people making wills as year-long pandemic shows unpredictability of life

Khoo Gek San

The year-long Covid-19 pandemic has increased the demand for estate planning and will writing services, in line with previous trends of increases during times of crisis. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, March 16, 2021.

DEMAND for estate planning and will writing services has increased in the past year, in keeping with the trend of higher demand during crises, those in the industry said.

The Covid-19 pandemic saw a 20% increase in business volume for Rockwills Corp Sdn Bhd, it’s president Chong Mok Yong told The Malaysian Insight.

There was also interest in estate planning from younger clients, he added.

Chong said according to the Malaysian chapter of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), the number of wills created will increase by around 24% every time a crisis occurs, such as the Malaysia Airlines MH370 tragedy and the SARS pandemic.

Those crises were short-term events and demand for will-making was not prolonged, but the Covid-19 pandemic has raged worldwide for more than a year and killed over 2.6 million people. This has increased people’s awareness on the need to prepare a will, Chong said.

The legal age for making a will in Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak is 18, while in Sabah it is 21.

Chong recounted his experience with an 18-year-old girl who wanted a will made in the interest of her parents.

He said this particular client impressed him deeply because of her maturity at a young age.

“She is the only child in her family and they are not rich, who own at most one car and a house. She said she did not want her parents to have to deal with formalities with the government in the event of her death.

“If a person dies suddenly without making a will, the family must deal with financial issues through a lawyer.

“Most people think that the deceased’s property will be divided equally between the family members according to the law after death. This is not the case. If you love your family and children, planning ahead is the protection you can give your family.”

Chong also dealt with clients who were concerned about exposure to the Covid-19 virus and possible death.

One such case was a father who frequently travelled to China for business.

“The person was concerned that he might be infected, and that many documents could not be signed during the quarantine period. If any misfortune were to occur, he did not want his wife and two children to be burdened.”

Life can spring other surprises that make estate planning crucial to avoiding or minimising heartache as much as possible, Chong added, such as the case of a 71-year-old man who remarried a much younger woman and had to plan his will such that his first wife and their four children, and his second wife and young child, would all be provided for without disputes.

Some law firms, meanwhile, also reported more consultations for estate planning.

Sim & Rahman Advocates and Solicitors senior partner Sim Wen Yee, who deals with estate management, said they received many applications during the pandemic last year.

Consultations increased by 20% to 30% including customers who later died from the virus, Sim said.  

“Last week, a customer came to consult. The father died of Covid-19 and regrettably, did not make a will.

“His properties, bank accounts, cars and companies were frozen, so lawyers are now required to process and file for court orders.”

Sim also said that it is inadequate to make a will in a lawyer’s office.

“Professional estate planners can provide a more comprehensive plan, which means that the estate planner is planning the future for the testator, and the lawyer plays the role of the executor.

“The lawyer’s office will only make the distribution of the estate according to the wishes of the testator.”

Sim is pleased that the number of people who made a will in recent years has increased.

“Five years ago, many people felt that making a will was taboo. Until three years ago, the situation improved, and many are coming forward for estate planning.”

She said making a will is important to prevent family disputes over inheritance which can become prolonged and ugly affairs.

Rockwills’ Chong said anyone aged 18 and above can make a will.

“If you have a car, bank account, funds, stocks, provident fund etc, you can set out in the will, how your property will be distributed after death or hand it over to a trustee to help you execute it.”

Fees to get the help of professional estate planners are also not too high, he added.

“The cost of simple estate planning ranges from RM500 to RM600. If complicated planning is involved, the cost then ranges from RM3,000 to tens of thousands of ringgits. Estate planning is based on regulations rather than the total value of the property.” – March 16, 2021.

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  • Step in the right direction with the unpredictability of life esp covid and its onslaught that left more than a trail of destruction so to speak...

    Posted 3 years ago by Warrick singh dhalial · Reply