Social Welfare Council to host lecture on wills, inheritance

National 2 minutes, 49 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

ADULTS should write a will to prevent problems in distributing their property after passing away, urged a prominent lawyer at Yusof Halim & Partners (YHP).

Mohd Yusof Halim, who is also an executive committee member of the Brunei Social Welfare Council (MKM), said people commonly delay the process of drawing up the legal document, which spells out who will inherit their assets in the event of death.

A will also involves appointing an administrator to manage the distribution of wealth and naming guardians for minor children.

Without a will in place, Mohd Yusof warned of the many challenges that could arise among surviving family members including long-running dispute over property which may take years to settle, causing assets to be frozen until an agreement is reached.

He observed it was not uncommon for generations of families to argue over inheritance, noting a case that was only resolved in 2000 after the deceased died without a will in 1929.

“You have cases where children fight with their parents over wealth; relatives turn against each other; siblings against one another... When it happens, it is very costly and it will cause a lot of delays. A lot of lives will be affected and families will be broken apart,” he said.

Mohd Yusof believed these pitfalls can be avoided by having a will, which will be carried out as instructed after death.

While there are mechanisms used in court to dictate inheritance in the absence of a will, he explained that systems such as the _Hukum Faraid _for Muslims and intestate distribution for non-Muslims might not take into account all of the deceased’s loved ones.

He pointed out the Islamic mechanism for distributing assets does not cater to adopted and stepchildren as well as the non-Muslim parents of a convert.

“If you only have daughters then your brothers and nephews will get (your assets), which may not be what you want... It’s actually a major headache in Brunei, not thinking about what will happen to your assets after you die,” said Mohd Yusof.

He further noted the administrator appointed to manage the deceased’s wealth “may not be the person you want”.

“You can be the most honest person in the world, but if you don’t have the time to administer the property then nothing will be done. There are many cases involving years of delay, because the administrator doesn’t have the time or doesn’t know what to do,” he said.

Urging people to seek professional advice, he said lawyers can help people to make a will and find alternative solutions to distributing wealth according to their wishes.

“I think it’s something a lot of people don’t want to think about. There’s a stigma involved, but one thing certain is death. We either leave behind children, property or debt... Do something about it. As long as you are alive, you can deal with your property as you wish,” he said.

He stressed that people should not put off writing their will, which can be updated from time to time.

In a bid to raise understanding and awareness, MKM in collaboration with YHP will conduct a legal talk on October 21 about the importance of having a will. The public talk delivered by Mohd Yusof tomorrow will cover a wide range of issues relating to Muslim and non-Muslim wills.

The Brunei Times