What needs to be listed in your wills and assets before you pass away?
Everyone owns assets at any point in time of their own lives. It can be houses, cars, bank accounts, businesses, and whatnot. Different people have different amounts of assets with different values. Regardless of what value your properties have, not every asset needs to be listed for probate.
Probate – usually grant of probate – is usually a document issued by the High Court to appoint an executor. The executor will help to locate all assets owned by the deceased person.
Whether the deceased has appointed a trustee and has a will during his/her waking years, an executor will still be appointed regardless. The executor will work hand in hand with the appointed trustee (if any) to help locate the assets and distribute the assets accordingly.
Not all assets need to be listed for probate
- Personal bank accounts
- Business bank accounts (if you have any)
- Stocks and bonds
- Vehicles (cars, boats, aeroplanes, helicopters, etc.)
- Business companies
- Real estate
- Any personal property or household items
- Tenants-in-assets properties
- Life insurance plans
- EPF account money
- The above list of assets are to be listed for probate. It’s not entirely complete as there are other small assets to be listed too, but not really worthy of mention on the list.
Assets that are not needed to be listed (or cannot be listed) for probate are as follows:
- Assets in a living trust
- Transfer-on-death or payable-on-death assets, forms, funds, securities, etc.
- Certain funds held in a pension plan
- Salaries or commissions owed to the deceased (depending on company policy)
- Trust Assets
Why are assets named in trust assets not listed in probate?
If you name any assets in a living trust, it can avoid probate unless you have a trust in your will. If that is the case, your will must go through probate for the trust to be able to come into effect. Best way to deal with this is to update your living trust regularly and review it frequently whenever you’ve acquired new properties and other important assets too.
What if I have forgotten to list a particular asset for probate?
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It’s normal for people to forget to include certain assets in probate sometimes. That’s all right because the executor will assist you and the court they represent in locating any and all assets the person has before they pass away. As soon as the “missing asset” is located, it will be included in the probate.
Once everything has been included in the probate, only then will the distribution process get started. However, before the distribution of assets gets disseminated, it will be used to pay off any outstanding debts. Once the debts have been paid, only then will the remaining assets be distributed.
Depending on whether there is a will and a trust or not, the distribution figures can be different. If there is a will and a trust in place, then the asset distribution will follow the stipulated figures in it. Otherwise, it will follow the Distribution Act (1958) of Malaysia.
The key takeaway is that not everything needs to be listed for probate. Certain assets you can leave it out, while some others you will need to list it. If you need to find out more about probate and listing assets, feel free to contact us for more information.