Q&A

Why Do I Need A Will?

Yes you can but you may not like the way the Distribution Act 1958 (as amended by the Distribution (Amendment) Act 1997) (“the Act”) determines how your assets are distributed and the lengthy and arduous process.

When you do not write a Will, you are in effect letting distribution follow what is stated in the Act. This is called intestacy and requires an application for a letter of administration which takes a longer time because of additional legal requirements to be complied with.

With a Will, the time to complete distribution is considerably shortened and you avoid the need for sureties/guarantors and the need to search for and agree on a reliable administrator. You can also ensure that the welfare of your children are taken care of by appointing a guardian while you still retain control over your assets even after writing your Will.

As long as you are eighteen (18) or above, you are never too young to write a Will and protect your loved ones from hassle and delay. Just like you are never too young to buy insurance.

Do not procrastinate. Accidents or terminal illness can happen to the young too. Moreover, the Wills Act 1959 also states that a person must be mentally sound or have mental capacity to write their Will. So, do not wait until you are too old or sick before you write your Will as it might be too late.

Have you ever wondered what happens when a person passes away? How will his assets be distributed? When a person dies intestate, i.e. without a Will, someone among the beneficiaries or an outsider that is agreed upon by all the beneficiaries, has to be elected to be the administrator. This elected next of kin/outsider will then have to apply for a Letter of Administration and will need to secure sureties for the estate as well as guardians if there are minors involved. In the meantime, the assets are frozen and this process could take two years or more. In addition, the distribution of the assets are fixed under the Distribution Act 1958 (as amended by the Distribution (Amendment) Act 1997) include surviving parents. This will mean that the grieving spouse may have to deal with the parents-in-law over the estate. Is this what you really want? How will your family carry on while your assets are frozen for three or more years? Without instructions from you, who should handle the assets or who should look after your minor children? Would you like your assets to be inherited by your siblings through your parents’ estate whereby your spouse and children will now have their uncles and aunties being part owners in your assets? Everyone should have a Will no matter how small the estate is so that the family is not further burdened.

Even if you do not have any family members that you would want to give to, you can always consider charitable contribution to orphanages, old folks home, various associations for the blind, homes for disabled children, homes for the destitute or religious organizations.

It is all relative. Regardless of the value of your assets, they are important to your loved ones especially those who depend on you.

Writing a Will is about creating a legacy of love and protecting the little treasures you have. You can also decide the beneficiaries of your choice, when to benefit them and how much to benefit them.

Moreover, over the years your assets may grow and our Will can cover future acquired assets as well as future inherited assets without re-writing it if you do not wish to do so. Besides, if you have young children, you can also appoint guardians for them through a Will. And writing a Will will ensure that your beneficiaries can inherit your estate sooner.

Writing a Will is very important and if you are really undecided about the way your assets should be distributed, let us help. Firstly, list down all your assets and estimate the value of each item. Designate a beneficiary/beneficiaries to each bequest and total up the amount for each and from this you will be able to get an idea of what the proportion of distribution to each beneficiary looks like and then adjust accordingly. This will help speed things up for documentation. Do not procrastinate. Act now as the unforeseen can happen.

Being superstitious will only cause difficulties for your family. Writing a Will has nothing to do with death. It is about planning the distribution of your wealth and protection of your loved ones. There are many benefits of having a Will.

In Hong Kong, which is a society with a lot of deep-rooted superstitions, many have written their Wills which is more than here. There, a Will is called “a peace book” which gives the person peace of mind when it is written, not having to worry about how his properties will be distributed and when his loved ones will get it. In the Will, it clearly states his wishes and how these are to be carried out. Once you have written your Will, you too can enjoy total peace of mind.

Can I Do It On My Own?

Yes, you can. But just as you can make your own clothes, you need skill in doing it and there are pitfalls you may not be aware of.

Although there are templates available from the bookstore or from the internet, you need to be sure that do-it-yourself documents are complete, address what you really want and are legally valid after you are no longer around to make amends.

Considering the financial values and emotional costs at risk when distribution is wrongly done, the fee paid to a professional firm of lawyers or an estate planning company such as ours would be worth the protection to your loved ones.

When dealing with such important issues as who and what to give and under what circumstances, be wary of free offers.

Because they are free, the cost of delivering the service has to be kept as low as possible. This means a very simple and inflexible format will be used, with minimal service as well as lack of quality check and regular follow ups.

It may cause you to miss out many aspects that you need to address but are not told about.

Under the Wills Act 1959, anyone can prepare a Will, but the question is whether the Will drawn up complies with the requirements of the law and fulfills the wishes of the testator. The Wills prepared by Rockwills are drafted and vetted by our  legal specialists. The legal specialists are legally qualified and have written hundreds of Wills as part of their daily job.

Our Rockwills Estate Planners facilitate the finalization of the Will according to your wishes, meaning we customise each Will to suit each individual. They take instructions from you in the comfort and convenience of a place of your choice, such as your home or office.

The risks of information stored or given online are higher than those information given to our Estate Planners. Leakages online happens where the online storage is attacked by hackers or infected by virus, malware or phishing. This is becoming a common event. Our infrastructure and systems are secure to ensure that all personal information are restricted for access and tracked by a limited number of authorised persons and our REPs are professionally trained not to divulge the client’s information to any unauthorized third party. We have not in our many years of existence experienced any online leakages nor internal leakage of clients’ confidential information.

Who Do I Go To?

With the recent proliferation of people offering such services, you may be confused about who to see.

There are free-lance will writers, will-writing companies, trustee companies, law firms and even banks.

Before you decide, please check that whoever is offering you the service is reputable and can be relied on for keeping your information confidential and to regularly be in touch for updates. He/she should also be qualified to do the job, meaning the party must have access to legal and technical support.

When it comes to comprehensive estate planning and business succession planning, it is even more crucial that the party providing the service has the necessary expertise and support to provide quality advice that covers not just the legal aspects but also the human, financial and business aspects.

Yes you can. Anyone who is not a minor, or of unsound mind, can act as a trustee or executor. You need to ask yourself whether they will be trustworthy or committed when faced with pressures of their own in business, finance or otherwise. You need to also ask yourself whether they are competent in handling legal, court, tax and financial affairs. It is our experience that in many cases, the individual eventually delegates the work to someone else who may or may not do the job properly and who may eventually cost more. You need to bear in mind that such persons will grow old and die.  Along the way prior to completing the distribution of your assets, they may become sick, senile, incapacitated or become of unsound mind, who then will take over? There will be delay for the next person to act as administrator or trustee because it requires a court order and also assets will have to be transferred to the new administrator/trustee’s name where additional costs will be incurred. To know more on how to pick a trustee, please click here.

What Cost?

Cheaper wills tend to be template based wills and very often the contents do not represent the intentions of the testator. What is important is that the Will prepared must be one that represents your intentions where the Estate Planner finds out what is important to you and to understand your concerns. By doing this it will enable us to prepare a Will that represents your intentions rather than a one-size for all cheap template will.

That is not true at all. We believe our fees are among the most competitive in the market and the service level that we provide is second to none. We strive for quality and efficiency to make our fees affordable. Over the years, we have written more than 180,000 Wills and set up more than 8,000 trusts for clients. So we have the economies of scale that others do not have.

With many things that are offered online, the main advantage is supposedly convenience and economical. This is true for many type of services but we believe for Will writing, it requires an Estate Planner to understand what you have in mind and your concerns for a will to be prepared to fulfill your intentions. Online will writing would lack such an interaction and it is unlikely to reflect your intentions. Online will writing often are template based hence any instructions out of the ordinary cannot be stated in the online will format. In addition, without the supervision of our trained Estate Planner, the online will writing may not be signed by the testator and witnesses in a proper manner that complies with the Wills Act 1959 in which case the Will is null and void..

The range of fees vary widely because the service provided is not the same although called by the same name. For example, a Will that is quoted for a very low price (see previous) may be using a template that does not allow you to change or ask questions or advice. At the other end, a more expensive one may involve a lengthy process of fact-finding, establishing your objectives through consultations and providing solutions to meet them. This way, your Will is very personalized as it is tailor-made to your needs and position.

It is like if you purchase ingredients for a meal, it will cost you a lot cheaper than going to a restaurant but you will not get the recipe nor will you get the person to cook for you. In effect, you get what you pay for.

Our fees vary depending on the level of service asked for. For example, our price range varies from a few hundred for a basic Will to several thousand Ringgit, depending on what is required to be drafted and complexity, and whether advice or solutions are provided through consultations beyond the requirements of a Will. We fix and publish the prices for our products and services and we provide quotes on request for complex cases so that you are clear as to what we charge and there are no hidden costs.

Why Rockwills?
  • Comprehensive range of services
  • Specialisation focus
  • Expertise
  • Experience
  • Convenience
  • Unique systems and security
  • Regular follow-ups
  • Quality checks
  • Regulated

We do nothing but estate and wealth succession planning. That has always been our focus.

We employ qualified people, some of whom are in multi-disciplines. We have more than 30 in-house lawyers and panel law firms and several certified financial planners, accountants and tax consultants.

Nearly all our senior management have been with us for more than ten years. Some of them are well known speakers and have written several books on the subject of estate and wealth succession planning.

We have more than sixteen years of experience in this business. And having experience in estate administration makes a lot of difference in that it has taught us much about drafting estate planning documents to avoid future conflicts.

We are an estate planning group, not just a will-writing company. We offer a complete range of services that will meet all estate planning needs, namely:

Will writing

Will custody

Trustee services

Trust administration

Estate administration

Local and offshore trust set ups

Offshore incorporation and nominee services

Bereavement bookings

We are not aware of any other like that.

We provide such services through a unique business model. We have over 3,500 professionally trained franchisees throughout Malaysia and Singapore who educate the public on the benefits of estate planning, market our products and take instructions from clients in the comfort of their home. The drafting and vetting of legal documentation are then done by qualified lawyers and the process is repeated until the client is satisfied with the final product.

To achieve this was not easy. We have had to build the necessary infrastructure (including IT systems and a bank vault), hire the right expertise, provide continuous training and achieve economies of scale to make our fees affordable.

Due to the advancement of technology, Will-writing is no longer like olden days when it was prepared manually by a type-writer or written by hand.

At Rockwills, we have rewritten the Will clauses/precedents from legal reference books as used by all legal professionals into a software (just like an e-book). Through the years of experience, we have expanded the clauses, improved specific wordings and the application so that the quality of our drafted Wills are second to none. With this specialized Will-writing system, today the Wills can be prepared more efficiently with more consistency and with built in auto-checks, eliminate unnecessary mistakes and delays.

Our objective is to ensure the instruction/wishes of the testator are taken into consideration. Every Will written by us is specially tailor made and drafted according to the wishes and instructions of the clients as Rockwills’ Will-writing system have the flexibility to cater for all the wishes of the testator whether they are ordinary normal wishes or extraordinary ones.

In addition, one can also ask, “How do the others prepare their Wills, is it not typed through a computer?” which can mean their drafts can also be susceptible to errors and omissions unless there is double vetting as is done in our process.

Moreover, from our many years of experience in handling estate administration, we are more aware and alert to legal pitfalls to avoid, than others who may not have been exposed.

How Reliable?

We control quality through:

– Training and examinations for franchisees who are also required to observe our code of ethics

– Continued professional education both for franchisees and staff

– All drafting and vetting of documentation is done by legally qualified personnel

– Consultation with external panel of experienced law firms

– Regular management and audit reviews

We are regulated under several acts, including the Companies Act, the Trustee Act, the Trust Companies Act and the Anti-Money Laundering Act. Our trustee companies are required to abide by licence conditions with the Companies Commission of Malaysia in the case of Malaysia and with the Monetary Authority of Singapore in the case of Singapore. Our advisory company is required to abide by licence conditions with the Securities Commission of Malaysia.

Our trustee companies have gone beyond the basic regulatory supervision framework. We have our own governance structure which involves boards comprising several independent directors, audit, investment and other board committees chaired by independent directors, a trust committee that conducts management reviews, a group internal audit function and a group compliance function.

Our shareholders’ funds are among the highest in the industry and we have professional indemnity insurance that covers the Group and its franchisees. As our focus is in estate planning, we do not get involved in risk-bearing financial activities.

 Even in the unlikely event that something does go wrong, assets, whether under our trust or estate administration, are ring-fenced from creditors as they are under the law kept in separate trust accounts which are not mixed up with each other’s or with the company’s own assets.

All Rockwills Estate Planners (REP) must adhere to the company’s code of ethics and are professionally trained not to divulge the client’s information to an unauthorized third party, just like a lawyer and client relationship and that of a doctor and patient, on pain of dismissal.

All Wills signed by the testators must be vetted and approved by the legal specialists at Rockwills and the draft copy Will indicate that the Will was vetted by Rockwills’ legal specialists and that the final Will is also vetted before it is put into the Will custody centre.

As testimony of our experience and expertise, we already have several thousand Wills approved for Grant of Probate by the High Court.

If it is necessary, a photocopy of the Will can be given to you or you can visit the company as often as you like to view your Will.

The Need For Document Custody

Keeping your Will at home is not a good idea because of the risks. For one, there is the possibility that it gets misplaced. How many of us can locate an old document after moving house or office a few times? A Will that cannot be found is as good as no Will.

Then there is the risk of damage by water, fire or pests. And the risk of prying eyes and tampering. Many a case has happened where relationships have been damaged because the contents of the Will were read or where the original Will is not found and therefore probate application cannot be made because a close family member has destroyed the Will of the deceased upon discovering that the distribution was not to his/her satisfaction.

At Rockwills, we believe that the custody of the Will is very important and we have built a custody centre with the following features to make it the best place to keep your Will:

  1. Strong room with fire resistant reinforced walls and bank vault door
  2. Motion detector
  3. Smoke detector
  4. Non-explosive lightings
  5. Flood proofed
  6. Humidification control
  7. Bio-metrics security features (access only through cards and fingerprints)
  8. 24 hours security and CCTV
  9. Adjoining to a police station

Rockwills understands the importance of keeping your Will safe and offers the following benefits:

  1. The Will is free from tampering
  2. Confidentiality is preserved
  3. The Will is certain to be found when needed
  4. There is protection from calamities
  5. The Will is free from accidental or deliberate destruction
  6. Access and viewing is controlled
  7. Continuous personalized service by Rockwills Estate Planners
  8. Free personal accident insurance
  9. Lifetime rewriting discount
  10. Special Will custody cards
  11. Personal assets inventory booklet to help you organize your financial matters
  12. Annual reminder service

Yes. Once your Will is deposited into the Rockwills custody centre, it will be closely monitored, coded with a special vault storage reference number and custody card for controlled access.

The problem is that when a person passes away, all the assets including the safe deposit box will be frozen even if it is in joint names. As such, the beneficiaries will need to get a court order in order to open the safe which incur additional costs and inconvenience. Moreover, there is the problem of loss of privacy and confidentiality. When it is kept in the safe deposit box, the joint account holder will also have access to the Will.

On the other hand, keeping your Will in our custody avoids such problems and offers many benefits (see Question “How safe is it to keep my Will at the Rockwills Custody Centre?“.)

If you keep your Will in a secure custodial place such as a safe deposit box, you would need to pay the safe deposit box fee. Under the law the safe deposit box will be frozen upon death. This will cause inconvenience to your family in locating and having access to the Will as they may not know where the safe deposit box located is. (If they do, they would still need a court order to open it, meaning another round of costs and hassles.)

However, keeping with our Professional Will Custody Service avoids such problems and is only about RM0.30 cents a day which is a small price to pay for the peace of mind knowing that the Will being a precious document is safely stored and can be found when the need arises. When the Will is kept at Rockwills custody centre, you will receive 2 custody cards (which flags the existence of the Will), a personal asset inventory booklet, annual reminder (renewal) letters and free personal accident cover worth RM20,000 with a one time registration fee of RM20.00.

The two services are not comparable. Ours includes 2 custody cards for alerting, annual reminder along with a personal asset inventory book for your tracking of assets and free personal accident insurance worth RM 20,000*.

Under the law the safe deposit box will be frozen upon death. This will cause inconvenience to your family in locating and having access to the Will as they may not know where is the safe deposit box located. In any case, they would still need a court order to open the safe deposit box, meaning another round of costs and hassles.

On the other hand, our custody service costs only about 30 sen a day. Think of it as insurance so that you can sleep with peace of mind knowing that your Will is properly kept, free from prying eyes, tampering and possible damage and will not get lost. These ensuring your wishes can  be achieved.

* With a one time registration fee of RM 20.

Every individual will have one custody number and will get the same custodial service. Therefore, it is not possible for two persons’ Wills to be kept as one just as the husband and wife cannot share the same pair of shoes. Besides, this is our control so that only the appointed executor, upon the testator’s death, has access to the particular Will. Unless duly appointed as the executor, even the spouse has no access to the Will.

Considering that you will probably live longer than 10 years, the cost spread on a daily basis is really low. The Will is an important document and it is well worth the money spent. Furthermore, you will get 20% discount on your future rewriting fee.

The first year custody package is compulsory because we take the responsibility to ensure that your Will is not lost or tampered with. Sometimes, you lose important documents when you keep those documents in a place that only you know about. If the Will is tampered with while you are keeping it, the tampering may invalidate your Will and this will defeat the objective of writing your Will. If it is kept at Rockwills Custody Centre, then no such event will happen because the Will is kept in a secure place which is fire-resistant for a several hours and tamper proof. Only you can retrieve (during your lifetime) and have access to your Will. Your executor can only retrieve your Will by producing the original death certificate with the custody card and his/her original identity card or passport as proof of identity. Family members are not allowed to retrieve if they are not the executors, unless authorized in writing by the executor. This is part of our control process before we allow access to the Will. Hence, you can experience the benefits for at least a year before you consider whether to retrieve.

If you find that it is troublesome to pay annually, you can sign up for our lifetime custody and pay only RM1188.00. With lifetime custody, you not only get a 20% discount on rewriting but you can also store your rewritten Will for free. In addition, you will be given free PA insurance of RM20,000 up to age 70.

TRUST

A Trust is a legal arrangement whereby the owner (the Settlor) entrusts another party (the Trustee) to take care of his asset/s for the benefit of the beneficiaries he has chosen under instructions in the form of a trust deed.

Because the Trust is an excellent solution for many different kinds of problems regarding wealth accumulation, wealth protection, wealth preservation and wealth distribution (Click here to see our various Trust products) A trust is ideal for example when your children are too young and you are concerned that the guardian may not do a good job of safeguarding the assets meant for their university education and life needs.

Without a doubt, having a Will written is important. However, unlike a Will, a Trust can serve many purposes to complete estate planning. For instance, a Trust allows wealth protection and preservation which a Will cannot do.

Marriage will not revoke a Trust.

A Trustee can be a trust corporation such as Rockwills Trustee Bhd who is licensed under the Trust Companies Act 1949, or a person chosen by the settlor to carry out the instructions as contained in the trust. As a Trustee, he has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries.

Yes, anyone can be the beneficiary including the Settlor, who creates the Trust.

Yes, unlike a Will, it is required under the Stamp Act 1949.

Only one witness is required to be part of the process of execution.

It can be as long as up to 21 years beyond the death of a person named in the trust or for a period of 80 years from the date of the trust instrument.

No, the Trust settlement is effective once it is executed by the Settlor and the Trustee, unlike a Will.

Usually cash, life insurance, investments in unit trust, properties in sole name and listed and unlisted company shares are used. What is important is that the assets placed into the trust would be able to fulfill the objectives of the trust that represent the intentions of the Settlor. The assets to be placed into the trust must be unencumbered.

As the Settlor, you can revoke/ amend it as long as it is a Revocable Trust.

Interests of such deceased Beneficiary can be dealt with accordingly under the terms of the Trust, which is why proper consultation is required to cover all situations in your planning.

If it is your intention that all your children should be part of the Beneficiaries under the Trust, with the right wording and a comprehensively drafted Trust Deed, it is not necessary to amend the Trust Deed.

If expressly provided under the Trust Deed, the Protector may remove and replace the Trustee subject to such conditions as may be stipulated.

The Trust can be one of the effective legal tools to help you manage, protect, preserve and distribute your wealth or your financial plan. It can also be used to maintain yourself in the event some critical illness struck.

It requires the Settlor to give away his assets such as shares, money and property to a trustee such as Rockwills Trustee Bhd to hold on trust for the benefit and enjoyment of the beneficiary(ies). The Settlor may impose conditions for the Trustee to follow, such as releasing monies only for a certain purpose or in a staggered manner.

Depending on structure of the Trust, a transfer of the legal title of the Settlor’s assets to a trustee such as Rockwills Trustee Bhd would be required in some trust cases whereas for others, the legal title is retained in the name of the Settlor who is acting as Trustee prior to his death or disability (upon which event the substitute trustee such as Rockwills Trustee Bhd will act as the trustee to replace the Settlor).

Revocable Trust is one where the Settlor reserves a power or right to amend or terminate the Trust. An irrevocable Trust is a Trust where the Settlor does not have such power and would require the beneficiaries’ consent to revoke or make changes.

The Trust prevails over the Will as the trust deed when signed takes effect immediately whereas a Will takes effect only upon death.

Wills and Trusts are not mutually exclusive. Even those who are very wealthy are unlikely to transfer everything they have into a Trust during their lifetime. The Will then covers all residual assets that remain upon death. Hence, it is important to have both Will and Trust to form part of a proper comprehensive estate plan.

The Settlor can appoint anybody he desires as Beneficiary which includes himself.

In the event that the Settlor exercises his power of revocation, the Trust will come to an end and the Trustee will be under an obligation to transfer all the assets of the Trust back to the Settlor.

We would recommend that it be revocable only by the Settlor but in some cases with the Settlor understanding the impact of granting such power to another person, a trust may be revoked by the Protector and/or beneficiary and/or third party.

A irrevocable trust can be used in the following situations:

  1. For Muslims, such a Trust can be used to distribute the assets according to his wishes;
  2. For the Settlor to have his assets distributed according to his wishes and protected from creditors subject to the provisions stated in the Bankruptcy Act 1967. This is because, in the event of the Settlor’s bankruptcy, all rights and powers exercisable by him in relation to the provisions of a trust deed, including the right to revoke the Trust, will be assigned to the Director General of Insolvency

The reference Fixed Trust and Discretionary Trust actually refers to the beneficial entitlement of the beneficiaries. A Fixed Trust is one in which the amount or proportions to be distributed to the Beneficiaries have been determined. The beneficial interest of each Beneficiary has been clearly defined. A Discretionary Trust on the other hand is a Trust in which the amount or proportions to the Beneficiary(ies) are not fixed but left to the discretion of the Trustee, although he may be guided by the Settlor through a Letter of Wishes.

Anybody who has reached legal maturity and is of sound mind whom the Settlor trusts.

The appointment of a Protector is optional but it is highly encouraged.

A Protector is the person appointed by the Settlor to oversee and give consent to certain actions of  the Trustee or to perform certain functions stated in the Trustee Deed. The Protector acts like a watch-dog in the restraint of the Trustee’s powers and to safeguard against a Trustee who may become incompetent, uninterested or who abuses its powers.

Whatever interest or whatever property a Trustee holds on trust does not belong to him but for the benefit of the Beneficiaries because the assets/property are held under trust accounts that are separate from the assets of the Trust Company. Therefore, in the event of a Trustee’s bankruptcy, the Trust property will not be vested in the Director General of Insolvency but instead a new successor Trustee would be appointed as Trustee to continue with the Trust.

Abuse is possible especially if the Trustee is an individual but such will be difficult or not possible in the case of a licensed and professionally-run Trustee company where the corporate governance and internal controls are strong and the Protector serves as a watchdog with some advisory or other powers over the Trustee.