Part 2: Administration of Estate/下篇:遗产管理

Part 2: Administration of Estate

**可以在下方查看本文章的华文版本

In the last article (see: “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way”), we discussed about the benefits of having a Will. We also talked about how the assets of the deceased are distributed in the event he or she dies intestate.

In this article, we will discuss about how the deceased’s family members or Executor can administrate the estate, with or without a Will. In order to do so, the Executor or Administrator must obtain a Grant of Probate or Letter of Administration from Court before performing any duties. Once obtained, the Executor or Administrator will commence his or her duties in the following order:-

1. collect the deceased’s estate;

2. pay the deceased’s debts and liabilities including funeral expenses, car loan, mortgage, credit card debts (unless it is covered by debt insurance) and estate duty (if any); and

3. distribute the remainder of the estate to the beneficiaries.

The difference between Executor and Administrator

Executor

Pursuant to Section 3(1) Probate and Administration Act 1959 (“PAA”), where there is a valid Will and the Executor is named in the Will, the Grant of Probate may be granted to the said Executor. If there are several Executors named, it may be granted to all subject to a maximum of 4 persons.

However, pursuant to Section 7 of the PAA, the Executor’s right shall cease if he:

(a) survives the testator but dies before taking out the Probate; or

(b) is cited to take out Probate but does not appear to the citation*; or

(c) renounces the right as an Executor.

*Citation is a document issued by an interested party to the estate to call on the Executor(s) to perform his or her duties or to renounce the right as an Executor. For example, the deceased’s family may issue a citation to the Executor if he or she refuses to apply for the Grant of Probate.  

Administrator

On the other hand, the Court will appoint an Administrator to administrate the deceased’s estate if:-

(a) no Executor being named in the Will;

(b) all the Executors appointed in the Will are legally incapable of acting, or have renounced their rights;

(c) no Executor survives the testator;

(d) all the Executors have passed on before obtaining probate or completed administering all the estate of the deceased;

(e) the Executors appointed in the Will failed to extract the probate, or

(f) the deceased has passed on intestate.

Any persons interested in the estate of the deceased person, who have died intestate, may apply to become an Administrator under Section 30 of the PAA. If the deceased has a valid Will but did not name an Executor, the Court will also appoint an Administrator pursuant to Section 16 of the PAA.

Application for a Grant of Probate

The following preliminary steps are important for the Executor to satisfy prior the application for the Grant of Probate:-

(a) Obtain an extract of the death certificate from the Registrar of Births and Deaths.

(b) Ensure that the Will is valid and complied with the requirements in the Wills Act 1959.

(c) A translation (preferably in Bahasa Malaysia) to be certified by a qualified interpreter or verified by affidavit of a person qualified if the Will is in a language other than Bahasa Malaysia or English.

(d) Make certified true copies of the death certificate and the Will as the original will be deposited in Court during the hearing of the application and will not be returned.

(e) Prepare the list of assets and liabilities and the list of beneficiaries for the distribution of the estate.

An Originating Summon and an Affidavit in Support (sworn by the Executor) will be filed in Court to apply for the Grant of Probate. If the application for the Grant of Probate is made after a lapse of 3 years from the date of death, the reason for the delay must be given in the Affidavit in Support. Once the Originating Summon and the Affidavit in Support have been filed in the Court, a hearing date will be fixed for the Executor to attend Court to obtain an order for the Grant of Probate.

Letter of Administration with Will annexed

Where someone passed on with a Will but without naming an Executor or the Executor has ceased to act for reasons mentioned above, a person is entitled under Section 16 of the PAA to apply to Court for a Letter of Administration with Will annexed. Effectively, he or she will be the Administrator if the Letter of Administration with Will annexed is granted by the Court.  

The Court procedure to apply for the Letter of Administration with Will annexed is almost similar to an application for Grant of Probate. The difference is that the Administrator can only extract the Letter of Administration with Will annexed if he or she furnished an Administration Bond. An Administration Bond is a security imposed on the Administrator to ensure he or she will acts legally and ethically and protects both the estate and the beneficiaries’ interest.

The criteria for an Administration Bond is that there must be two sureties, who have assets within the jurisdiction equivalent to the amount of the deceased’s estate. In the event the Administrator is not able to fulfil such criteria, he or she may apply to the Court for dispensation.

There are circumstances where the Administration Bond is not required at all. It is possible if:-

(a) The Trust Corporation has obtained administration;

(b) The deceased left no estate;

(c) The gross value of the estate does not exceed RM50,000; or

(d) The Administrator is the sole beneficiary to the whole estate.

Letter of Administration without Will annexed

When someone passed on without a Will, a person, entitled under Section 30 of the PAA, may apply for the Letter of Administration without Will annexed to be an Administrator.

The Court procedure for the application of the Letter of Administration without Will annexed is identical with the application for Letter of Administration with Will annexed. An Administration Bond is also required to be furnished although the reasons for dispensation are equally applicable herein.

However, the distribution of the assets will be governed under Section 6 of the Distribution Act 1958 as there is no Will. The manner and order of distribution is as stated in Part 1: “Where There’s A Will There’s A Way”.

Distribution under the Small Estates (Distribution) Act 1955 

The alternative to a Court process is to apply at the District Land Office for the administration of the deceased’s estate under the Small Estates (Distribution) Act 1955. A “small estate” means an estate of a deceased person not exceeding RM2 million in total value (without deduction of debts) and the estate must consist wholly or partly of immovable properties. The deceased’s estate will not be a “small estate” if it does not consist of an immovable property.

Generally, a person who is claiming an interest in the deceased’s estate, whether as a beneficiary or a creditor, may lodge a petition at the District Land Office. Subsequently, a hearing will be conducted at the District Land Office. At the conclusion of the hearing, the District Land Office will make a grant for distribution and no Administration Bond is required. The distribution of the assets will still be governed by the Distribution Act 1958 since there is no Will.

One may opt for the administration of a small estate by the District Land Office over the administration of an estate under a grant from the High Court as it is more costs effective to do so.

Regardless, the Executor or Administrator must always remember that the purpose of applying for a Grant of Probate or Letter of Administration is to ensure the deceased’s final possessions are distributed justly and fairly.

By: Lee Su Ting

DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information only and should not be relied upon as legal advice and/or legal opinion. Messrs Yeoh & Joanne accepts no liability for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information contained in this article. 

下篇:遗产管理

在上一篇文章中(见:“拥有遗嘱的重要性”),我们讨论了拥有一份遗嘱的好处。我们还讨论了死者的财产在他或她无遗嘱的情况下是如何分配的。

在这篇文章中,我们将讨论死者的家庭成员或遗嘱执行人將如何管理遗产,无论在有或没有遗嘱的情况下。为了做到这一点,遗嘱执行人或管理人在履行任何职责之前必须获得法院的遗嘱认证或遗产管理书。一旦获得,遗嘱执行人或管理人将按照以下顺序开始履行其职责:-

(1) 收集死者的遗产;

(2) 支付死者的债务,包括丧葬费、汽车贷款、抵押、信用卡债务(除非有债务保险)和遗产税(如有);和

(3) 将遗产的剩余部分分配给受益人。

遗嘱执行人和管理人的区别

执行者

根据《1959年遗嘱认证及遗产管理法》第3(1)条,如果遗嘱有效且遗嘱执行人在遗嘱中被指定,遗嘱认证可授予上述遗嘱执行人。如果有多个指定的遗嘱执行人,最多可授予4人。

然而,根据《1959年遗嘱认证及遗产管理法》第7条,如果遗嘱执行人:

(a) 在立遗嘱人去世后仍健在,但在取出遗嘱认证去世;或者

(b) 被传唤申请遗嘱认证,但没有回应该传票*;或者

(c) 放弃作为遗嘱执行人的权利。

*传票是由与遗产有关的当事人发出的文件,要求遗嘱执行人履行其职责或放弃作为遗嘱执行人的权利。例如,如果遗嘱执行人拒绝申请遗嘱认证,死者的家人可以向他或她发出传票。

管理人

另一方面,法院将任命一名管理人来管理死者的遗产,如果:-

(a) 遗嘱中没有指定遗嘱执行人;

(b) 遗嘱中指定的所有遗嘱执行人在法律上无履行其职责能力,或已放弃其权利;

(c) 没有一位遗嘱执行人幸存于遗嘱人之后;

(d) 所有遗嘱执行人在取得遗嘱认证或完成遗产的管理前已去世;

(e) 遗嘱中指定的遗嘱执行人未能提取遗嘱认证,或

(f) 死者没有拥有遗嘱。

根据《1959年遗嘱认证及遗产管理法》第30条,任何与没有立下遗嘱而逝世的死者遗产有利害关系的人,均可申请成为遗产管理人。如果死者拥有有效的遗嘱,但没有指定遗嘱执行人,法院也将根据《1959年遗嘱认证及遗产管理法》第16条指定一名遗产管理人。

遗嘱认证的申请

以下是遗嘱执行人在申请遗嘱认证前必须完成的初步步骤:-

(a) 从出生和逝世登记处获得逝世证明的摘录。

(b) 确保遗嘱有效并符合《1959年遗嘱法》的要求。

(c) 如果遗嘱使用马来西亚语或英语以外的语言,一份译本(最好是马来西亚语的译本)必须由合格的翻译人员证明或由合格人员的宣誓书核实。

(d) 准备逝世证明和遗嘱的经核证的真实副本,因为原件将在申请审理期间存放在法院,且不会被退回。

(e) 为遗产分配编制资产和负债清单以及受益人清单。

一份原诉传票和一份支持宣誓书(由遗嘱执行人宣誓)将提交法院申请于遗嘱认证。如果遗嘱认证申请是在死者逝世之日起3年后提出的,延迟的原因必须在支持宣誓书中给出。一旦原诉传票和支持宣誓书已提交法院,法院将确定一个出庭的听证日期,以遗嘱执行人出席与获得授予遗嘱认证的法院令。

附有遗嘱的遗产管理书

如果死者有遗嘱但未指定遗嘱执行人,或遗嘱执行人因上述原因而停止行动,相关人士则可以根据《1959年遗嘱认证及遗产管理法》第16条向法院申请附有遗嘱的遗产管理书。实际上,如果法院批准附有遗嘱的遗产管理书,他或她将成为遗产管理人。

申请附有遗嘱的遗产管理书的法院程序几乎类似于遗嘱认证申请。不同之处在于,遗产管理人只有在提供了管理保证书的情况下,才能提取附有遗嘱的遗产管理书。管理保证书是对遗产管理人施加的一种担保,以确保他或她将合法和道德地履行任何职责,并保护遗产和受益人的利益。

管理保证书的标准是必须有两位担保人,而且他们在法律管辖范围内的资产相当于死者的遗产。如果遗产管理人不能满足这些标准,他或她可以向法院申请豁免。

此外,有些情况下根本不需要行政保证金。有可能:-

(a) 信托公司已经获得管理权;

(b) 死者没有留下遗产;

(c) 遗产总值不超过5万令吉;或者

(d) 管理人是整个遗产的唯一受益人。

无遗嘱的遗产管理书

当死者在没有遗嘱的情况下去世时,根据《1959年遗嘱认证及遗产管理法》第30条,有权的人可以申请作为遗产管理人。

申请无遗嘱的遗产管理书的法院程序与申请附有遗嘱的遗产管理书的程序相同。尽管豁免的理由在此同样适用,但也需要提供管理保证书。

然而,由于没有遗嘱,资产的分配将受《1958年分配法》第6条的管辖。分配的方式和顺序如在上一篇文章所述:“拥有遗嘱的重要性” 

根据《1955年小地产(分配)法》进行遗产分配

法院程序的替代办法是根据《1955年小遗产(分配)法》向地区土地局申请管理死者的遗产。“小额遗产”是指死者总遗产价值不超过200万令吉 (不扣除债务,该遗产必须全部或部分由不动产组成。如果死者的遗产不包括不动产,它就不是“小额遗产”。

一般来说,声称对死者遗产拥有权益的人,无论是作为受益人还是债权人,都可以向地区土地局提出申请。随后,将在地区土地局举行听证会。在听证会结束时,地区土地局将给予遗产分配认证,不需要提供管理保证书。由于没有遗嘱,资产的分配仍受《1958年分配法》管辖。

人们可以选择向地区土地局申请管理该“小额遗产”,而不是通过高等法院申请遗嘱认证或遗产管理书,因为这样做需要的费用会更低。

无论如何,遗嘱执行人或管理人必须始终记住,申请遗嘱认证或遗产管理书的目的是确保死者的最终财产得到公正和公平的分配。

文章来自于:

李淑婷律师(Lee Su Ting) 

免责声明:本文仅供参考,不应作为法律建议和/或法律意见。Yeoh & Joanne律师事务所不会承担因依赖本文所含信息而产生的任何损失的责任。

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