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Do You Really Need A Probate If You Die Penniless and Have No Assets? 

The general understanding of having probate in Malaysia is pretty standard. You have properties, assets, and money in your bank accounts. To make sure your next-of-kin gets it when you die, you will write a will saying they will get a certain percentage of it evenly distributed. If there’s a need to contest it, it will go to probate court to be sorted out. 

However, there are some people who do not have assets and money when they pass away. When they die, they have essentially left nothing to their next of kin. Or some people work in low-paying jobs, hence do not have much in their accounts when they pass away – never mind if they have properties or not. 

If you are someone who falls in the latter group, you may wonder whether there is a need to get a will or not. You may also ask if you need probate too. 

The questions are valid. In this article, we will talk about if you need probate when you pass away – if you have no assets and monies. 

How Do Assets And Money Get Distributed? 

How Do Assets And Money Get Distributed
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The general understanding is that if you have a will, your assets and monies will be distributed according to what your will said. You can distribute, for example: 

  • 30% to child
  • 30% to spouse
  • 40% to a friend or any non-family related person 

Sometimes, some people allocate a certain percentage of their assets to NGOs, religious bodies, or charities. It depends. 

However, some people may not leave a will behind. In this case, the assets will go to Bank Negara Malaysia or the Malaysian Government. The next of kin will have to bring a Letter of Administration or Grant of Probate to Bank Negara Malaysia or the Malaysian Government to get the money and assets back. Typically the assets and monies will be distributed according to the Distribution Act of Malaysia. 

If no one came to claim the assets and monies, then it will forever stay with Bank Negara Malaysia or the Malaysian Government. Sometimes there are cases where the assets and monies will be left untouched for many years. The Malaysian government also cannot use the money or assets either. 

Do You Need A Probate When You Are Penniless? 

Do Yo/u Need A Probate When You Are Penniless
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People usually think you only need probate when you don’t have a will, have monies and assets, or when a will is being challenged. While it’s true in all cases, people will also get probate when they die penniless. 

Here are some of the scenarios when you need probate even when you didn’t have money and assets. 

1. You left behind debts 

No assets and monies do not mean you didn’t leave behind debt. Debt cannot be written off unless the institutions decide so. Let’s say you have credit card debts. Your spouse, child, or partner’s name is on the secondary card. When you’ve passed away you have left behind a sum of credit card debt. 

That means whoever has signed on with your card’s secondary card will have to help pay off your card’s debt. This is provided the secondary cardholder is still alive. 

2. Outstanding unpaid income tax 

You can’t run away from outstanding income tax you haven’t paid. Usually, when you haven’t paid for your income tax, the Malaysian government will use your Employee Provident Fund (EPF) money to pay off whatever income tax money you owe. 

You cannot contest this decision. Probates will be unable to help you in this case either. If there is any money left, it will be evenly distributed to the family members in accordance with the Distribution Act of Malaysia. 

3. Creditors you owe money too 

In life you may have owed some people any amount of money. It may not necessarily be from banks and it can be from friends. The process of probate is an opportunity for creditors to come to court and request payments for the money you owe them. If there is no money or assets left, they will not receive any money. 

Many times the court will make a final accounting for all of your assets and pay the creditors. Only then do they close the probate estate. As soon as the probate is closed, the creditors will no longer be able to get the money the deceased owe them. 



The bottom line is that you will still need probate regardless of whether you’ve left behind assets and money or not. Most times probates are to address any debts left behind by the deceased, only then are the remaining money and assets (if any) be distributed to the next of kin.