Applying for Letters of Administration (LA)

In a situation where the deceased passed away without a wills or known as intestate, the administrator will have to apply to the court for an official documents called the “Letters of Administration” in Malaysia to allow the administrator to administer the deceased’s estate.

This is also a situation where “we do not know what is the last wishes of the deceased”. We may not know how many immovable or movable assets, properties, monies in the bank, EPF savings, shares, unit trusts (all referred to as the “deceased properties”). In this situation, the deceased leftover will be governed under the Distribution Act 1958. The deceased has automatically opt into the government law and hence adopting a “government wills”.

Distribution Act 1958 (DA 1958)Government Wills

Under the DA 1958, the first option that the court will allow the closest family member of the deceased to inherit the deceased’s properties. The court first look at the lineage of the deceased; the children/offspring (including adopted children and step children), and thereafter the deceased’s parent.

If the deceased does not have children, wife or their parent has passed away, then the court will look at the deceased’s brother and sister, or uncle and aunty.

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How long does it takes to apply for a Letters of Administration?

The application for a LA might take up from 6 to 12 months depending whether or not the administrator is able to locate all the deceased’s assets and properties. This is a situation where the administrator is left with no clue and has to search for the deceased’s assets with the help of the deceased’s family members and also to check at the deceased’s premise.

Court’s processes involved with the application of LA.

The administrator must then engage a lawyer as the application for LA can only be heard before the High Court Judge. The administrator has no right to appear (no locus) before the High Court Judge. 

There are 3 applications involved namely the application for letters of administration, the application for dispensation of sureties and also the application for distribution order.

The Application for Letters of Administration

The first process involved filling of cause papers, and for the court to fix a hearing date. The court will need to receive the original death certificate of the deceased before they would hear from the administrator and also the lawyer. On the date of the hearing, the court would require the administrator to read out his or her identification card number before the court for verification of identity. After the court peruse the cause papers, an order for the granting of the letter of administrators will be given.

The party has to pay for the court’s fee before the court issued a court’s verified letters of administration. The application for the dispensation of sureties will be heard together with the application for the granting of the letters of administration. 

After the court has granted the grant of letters of administration, the administrator can serve a certified true copy of the LA together with a copy of the death certificate to the respective bank (financial institutions), employee provident funds, insurance companies, Road Transport Department Malaysia (JPJ), Developer’s company and etc. 

The last part is where the administrator has to get a distribution order. The distribution order is needed for the transfer of the deceased immovable property such as property. The distribution order is needed for the submission of the Memorandum of Transfer to the land office for the registration of the title deed in favour of the beneficiary.

Disadvantages of Letters of Administration versus Grant of Probate

It is better to get a wills drafted to avoid all the troublesome of locating the deceased’s assets and properties as this may take up time. The application process to apply for a Letters of Administration in Malaysia will also take longer time of 6 to 12 months compare to the application for a grant of probate which takes between 3 to 6 months.

Letter of administrations may expose the beneficiary to ad valorem stamp duty assessment before the stamp office. Unlike the grant of probate which automatically allows the beneficiary to pay RM10 as nominal fee during the process of adjudication of the Memorandum of Transfer. 

The beneficiary may need to engage lawyer to file an appeal against the assessment of the stamp duty before the stamp office within a 30 days period.

Authored by Dylan Chong

The contents of this publication are given as general information for reference purposes only and do not constitute the firm’s legal advice. For any specific matter or legal issue, please do not rely on this publication but make sure to consult a legal adviser. We would be delighted to answer your questions, if any.

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