The loss of a family member or loved one is a period of immense grief and emotional turmoil. During this vulnerable time, the executor of a Will assumes a position of trust and authority, responsible for ensuring the deceased’s estate is distributed in accordance with their wishes. However, it is disheartening to acknowledge that in some cases, executors exploit their power and abuse the inheritance, causing further distress to the beneficiaries. Here are some examples of the actions executors may take to abuse inheritances:
- Misappropriation of assets such as unlawfully transfer funds, property or valuable possessions into their own possession.
- Undervaluing or concealing assets to reduce the beneficiaries’ entitlements.
- Delaying distribution and causing unnecessary hardship and financial strain to the beneficiaries.
- Favoritism and unequal distribution due to personal biases, conflicts of interest etc.
- Lack of transparency and accountability such as intentionally withhold information, fail to provide updates on the estate’s administration, or refuse to answer legitimate queries from beneficiaries.
In cases where executors abuse their power and exploit inheritances, it is crucial to have robust administrative actions in place to protect the rights of beneficiaries. In Malaysia, the legal system provides mechanisms to address executor misconduct, including a provision that grants the court the power to revoke or annul a Grant of Probate (Section 34, Probate and Administration Act 1959) or to determine the questions or relief in an administration action (Order 80, Rules of Court 2012)
Section 34 of the Probate and Administration Act 1959 states:
Any probate or letters of administration may be revoked or amended for any sufficient cause.
This provision empowers the court to take action if there is just cause to revoke a grant of probate or administration. It outlines specific circumstances in which the court may exercise its power, including instances of fraud, false representation, false suggestions, untrue allegations, criminal convictions related to the deceased, or errors made during the grant process.
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