The Law and You

If you die without a will.

Many Malaysians do not make wills. A will enables a person to decide who is to inherit his property when he dies.

Now, what happens to your property if you die intestate, i.e. without a will?

If the deceased is a Muslim, the estate will be distributed according to the Quranic provisions.
The Fara'id (Muslim Law of inheritance) states that when a Muslim man dies, his wife gets one-eighth of the estate, his parents one-sixth each, and the balance is distributed among his children - the sons getting twice as much as the daughters. If there is no children, the estate is divided among the wife, mother and father, with the father receiving the largest share.

When a Muslim woman dies, her husband get one-quarter of her estate, her parents get one-sixth each and the remaining  is shared by her children with the sons getting twice as much as the daughters. If there are no children, her husband and parents share the estate equally.

If the deceased is a non Muslim, the estate will be distributed according to the provisions in the Distribution Ordinance 1958. For convenience the rather complicated rules can be summarized as in the accompanying table below.

Who is to administer the deceased's estate?
Since there is no will, no one would have been named to administer the estate. An interested party may apply to the court for the Letters of  Administration. Other interested parties may challenge this application. The court will have the discretion to decide which party will be the administrator of the estate.
Where the estate of the deceased person consists wholly or party of land and does not exceed $300,000 in total value, the interested party must apply to the Collector of Land Revenue for the authority to administer the estate. The procedure for this application is laid down in the Small Estate (Distribution) Act 1955.

Family circumstances at the time of death

Division of  property

1.  Deceased is a bachelor/spinster
a) Surviving father and mother Shared equally by them
b) Surviving father or mother only Person gets everything    
c) No surviving parents Held on trust for brothers and sisters
d) No surviving parents, brothers or sisters Divided between grand - parents
e) Situation (d) and no grandparents Held on trust for uncles and aunts
f) Situation (e) and no uncles or aunts Divided between great grand parents
g) Situation (f) and no great grand parents Divided between great uncles and great aunts      (brothers and sisters of grandparents)
h) Situation (g) and no great uncles or great aunts Goes to the government of Malaysia
2. Deceased is married woman
a) Surviving husband Husband gets everything, children gets nothing
b) No surviving husband Shared equally between the children
c) No Surviving husband or children Distribution similar to that of a spinster
3. Deceased is a married man
a) Surviving wife and children Wife gets 1/3 and 2/3 divided equally between children
b) No surviving wife Shared equally between children
c) Surviving wife but no surviving children Wife gets 1/2 and deceased's parents get 1/2
d) Surviving wife but no surviving children or parents Wife get 1/2 and 1/2 is held on trust for the deceased's brother and sisters
e) Situation (d) and no brothers or sisters Wife gets 1/2 and deceased's grand parents get 1/2
f) Situation (e) and no grand parents wife gets everything