More Malaysians into estate planning after recent air tragedies

More Malaysians into estate planning after recent air tragedies
Important service: AmanahRaya employees answering enquiries and helping people draw up their will at its office in Kuala Lumpur.

PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - The number of Malaysians making wills has soared following the recent airline tragedies.

An estate planning firm here has reported a 40 per cent increase in new wills while public trustee AmanahRaya has received more requests from companies to hold talks for their employees on the importance of estate planning.

"There is usually a surge (in new wills) whenever a (widely reported) tragedy occurs because it reminds people that life is fragile and it is better to be safe than sorry," Rockwills Trustee Bhd senior general manager Azhar Iskandar Hew said.

On March 8, Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing with 239 passengers and crew on board and barely four months later, on July 17, MH17, which was carrying 298 people, was downed near the Russia-Ukraine border.

Azhar, whose company has prepared more than 150,000 wills, said it was important not to leave loved ones in the lurch if the unexpected were to happen.

The company estimated that there was some RM60bil (S$23.45 billion) worth of unclaimed money and assets in the country because their owners did not leave any will when they died.

Only a small number, between 5 per cent and 10 per cent, of Malaysians are believed to have made their wills.

Family law practitioner Andy Low Hann Yong also noted a "significant increase" in inquiries for will writing service of late.

He said this could be due to rising public awareness on the importance of having a will, or the occurrence of unfortunate incidents such as MH370 and earthquakes, and reports of bitter fights over estates involving well-known personalities or tycoons.

"Sad events jolt people into realising that life is unpredictable. The death of someone close can also push people to get a will done," he said.

AmanahRaya operations management division head Amran Ahmad said the trustee and administrator had received "at least" a 10 per cent increase in enquiries after MH370 disappeared.

"We had more companies asking us to conduct talks for their staff," he said.

AmanahRaya corporate communication head Nik Salina Nik Idris said: "The perception that legacy management is only for the rich is wrong."

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