Basic Legal Concerns Of An Expatriate

Basic Legal Concerns Of An Expatriate

Being a gem in Southeast Asia which is blessed with freedom from natural disasters, affordable yet high quality standard of living and warm-hearted people, it comes as no surprise that Malaysia has been ranked 4th as the best destination for expatriates to live and work in according to the Expat Insider 2021 survey. Although the recent revision of applicants’ criteria for the Malaysia My 2nd Home (“MM2H”) visa have tarnished the gem’s brilliance, this article is still relevant for those in residence here already.  There are many tasks that must be accomplished to settle down in another country, but what expatriates commonly tend to overlook is the requirement of legal safeguards on their estates should the undesirable happen whilst living here.  

Senior expats making Malaysia their second or retirement home frequently have had their Wills for their country of origin drawn up. This is common as those assets will usually form the bulk of their estate.  However, some expats on MM2H visa actually acquire and hence own more assets here then back “home” as the intention is to make Malaysia their last home.  Having advised and assisted many MM2H visa holders which such scenarios in mind, we find ourselves drawing up a primary will for Malaysia for them.  For those with previous wills already made, it is time to revisit your legacy planning to ensure that both your assets in your country of origin and your assets in Malaysia is fully protected.  From our numerous experience of assisting our clients in their estate executions, it is our best practise that one consider making two separate wills – one for the assets in your “home” country, and another for the assets in Malaysia.  We call this separation of jurisdictions for ease of execution purposes.

While assets for MM2H visa holders may include the usual immoveable properties and bank accounts;  for the working expat, contributions and savings under the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) in Malaysia may form a large monetary fund. Few reading this article is likely to have become an EPF member prior to 1st August 1998, where members may make provision for their EPF savings by way of a simple nomination of beneficiary or beneficiaries.  If you contributed to EPF after the above date, your EPF savings can only be distributed in the same way as your other assets – by way of a provision in your will.

If you are a parent with minor children below 18 years, planning for an alternative care giver in the form of a guardian should be a top priority seeing that we have just gone through almost 2 years of worldwide pandemic. Minor children are particularly vulnerable if not provided proper protection under your will. Without a pre-appointed guardian, children are exposed to far too many uncertainties such as being required to move to an unfamiliar environment or at worst case, being made wards of court.  

There is also a high possibility that your assets will not be distributed to your children or used for their benefit according to your intentions. Being forced to deal with the grief of losing parents at a young age is already a tremendous challenge – your children should not be deprived of their basic necessities of life which will be affected if cash flow is frozen in the absence of a valid will.

Undoubtedly, planning your estate may seem like a daunting and difficult task, especially when you have assets in different jurisdictions that need to be properly dealt with. But with our company who have engaged in legacy planning for the last 26 years, our 3Cs process makes it easy and productive.  We have completed execution of a will within a week for clients on an urgent basis.  It can be done if you let us help you.  


Get in touch today for a complimentary consultation to: 

  • create a valid Will to cover assets in different jurisdictions; and
  • organise your legal affairs with the right advice and plan.  
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About the author

Ms. Kim Khoo

P.J.K, C.L.P., LL.B (Hons) London
Principal Legal Consultant