Distribution of the property of a deceased(non-Muslim)

The property of a deceased person is known as his estate. When a person dies without making a will, he dies intestate.

The law provides for the distribution of the property of a person who dies without making a will. Below is the law in West Malaysia that applies to a non-Muslim.

(Note: The same law applies to non-Muslims in Sarawak, but a different set of laws applies to Sabah and natives of Sarawak.)

When a person dies without making a will, does all his property go to the government?

No, it does not.

When a non-Muslim dies without making a will, the property he leaves behind will be distributed among his family members according to the Distribution Act 1958. The same law applies to male and female deceased persons.

How is the estate of the deceased person distributed?

Generally, the estate will be distributed among the deceased’s immediate family: his parents, his spouse, and his issue.

A person’s issue (descendants) includes his children and the descendants of his children who died before him.

The distribution among the family is shown in the following table:

If the deceased dies leaving Parents get Spouse gets Issue gets
parents only, but no spouse and issue whole estate
spouse only, but no parent and issue whole estate
issue only, but no spouse and parents whole estate
parents and spouse, but no issue 1/2 1/2
spouse and issue, but no parents 1/3 2/3
parents and issue, but no spouse 1/3 2/3
parents, spouse and issue 1/4 1/4 1/2

What if a person dies leaving no parents, spouse and issue?

If a person dies leaving no parents, spouse and issue, his estate will go to the following persons in order of priority:

  1. his brothers and sisters
  2. his grandparents
  3. his uncles and aunts
  4. his great grandparents
  5. his great granduncle and grandaunts

Therefore, if a person dies leaving no parents, spouse and issue, the estate will go to his brothers and sisters, who will share the estate equally. If a person dies leaving no parents, spouse, issue, brothers and sisters, the estate will go to his grandparents, and so on.

Only when a person dies leaving no parents, spouse, issue, and any of the above family members, will the whole estate go to the government.

Copyright Johore Bar

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