How can I make uncle honour dead grandpa’s self-made will?

How can I make uncle honour dead grandpa’s self-made will?


Q I AM from Malaysia. My grandfather, a Malaysian, died six years ago.


According to his self-made will, his properties were to be distributed among his six sons. His eight daughters were not given a share in the will.


My grandfather signed this self-made will and so did his six sons. There were no signatures from the daughters.


However, immediately after my grandfather died, one of his sons, who is my third uncle, declared that he did not agree with the will. Because of his refusal to accept the will, all my grandfather’s properties are at the moment still under my grandfather’s name.


My third uncle is the one who manages the plantation and the company. He took all the income and did not distribute any to the shareholders.


My father was older than my third uncle and could have challenged my uncle, but unfortunately, he died in June last year.


According to my father’s will, which has been certified by a lawyer, I am the executor.


I want to get back what belongs to my sister, my brother and myself, and I have approached my third uncle. But he told me that, as his nephew, I have no right to ask for anything.


I personally feel that the only way to retrieve what is rightfully ours is to make my grandfather’s self-made will valid in the eyes of Malaysian law. But I have only a photocopy of the will and it was written in Chinese.


In your opinion, is the will of any use in the eyes of the law? Is there a solution to my problem?



A I MIGHT not be able to help very much. As your grandfather and father were Malaysians, Malaysian law would apply.


My advice as follows is based on Singapore law as I am not conversant with Malaysian law. You may wish to seek the advice of a Malaysian lawyer.


There are many dangers in relying on a self-made will. In this instance, it is not clear, based on what you have said, whether the will was properly executed and witnessed.


Also, when the six sons put their signatures on the will, it is not clear in what capacity they did so. Were they witnesses to the will? If so, the gift to them under the will is void as they were also the named beneficiaries under the will.


Under the Wills Act, a beneficiary of a will cannot also be a witness to it; the same applies to his or her spouse. Otherwise, the gift to that person under the will is utterly null and void. If the will includes other gifts and an appointment of executors, it is still valid where these are concerned.


In your grandfather’s case, if the will is void with regard to the gifts to the six sons, you will need to see whether there are other gifts stated in the will. For example, if your grandfather left the residuary estate to all his children, then all his sons and daughters would get a share.


If nothing else is said in the will, intestacy laws would apply. Under Singapore law, when a widower dies (assuming your grandmother died before your grandfather), all his assets will be divided among all his children. In this case, this would include the six sons and eight daughters. You and your siblings would inherit your father’s portion of your grandfather’s estate.


You might wish to get one or more of the other uncles or aunts to apply for letters of representation from the Malaysian court.


You might apply – as executor for your father’s estate – together with them.


You would need to produce the original will to the court when applying for the letters of representation. You would need to get a translation as well.


After the letters of representation have been extracted from the court, the personal representatives can request that your third uncle give an account of the income earned and expenses incurred by your grandfather’s estate during the time your uncle managed the assets.


Ang Kim Lan

Goodwins Law



Source: Straits Times

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