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1. Whether the deceased entitled the whole of his first wifes property?

The deceased, Kong Siew Chong was not entitled to the whole of the first wifes property. The deceased was granted letters of administration on 8th October 1974 and it was issued to him on 27th January 1977. The estates of Ng, Kongs deceased first wife, only consisted of a landed property situated in Jalan Pahang, KL. According to the old distribution law, S 6(1)(i) stated that Kong should be the sole beneficiary of the property. The property was then transferred and registered in the name of Kong as representative. Nonetheless, Kong died on 9th July 1990 without completing the transfer of the property into his own name. HSBC(M) Trustee Berhad, the applicant, made an application to the High Court for the grant of letters of administration de bonis non in respect of the first wifes estate. As Kong was granted administration of the estate, but died without completing administration, Kong was not entitled to the whole of his deceased wifes property because he was too slow to take steps as an administrator to transfer the property. Had he done so, the distribution of the estate would have been proceeded as if the 1997 Act had not been passed, that is, Kong would then received the whole of the property according to the unamended s 6(1)(i) of the Distribution Act 1958. The distribution of the estate of the deceased who died intestate, according to s 4 of the 1997 Act, is deemed to have commenced on the date in which steps had been taken by the administrator to transfer the property. Since no steps had been taken to transfer the property, the distribution shall be in accordance with the provision of the 1997 Act. Kong was entitled to only 1/3 of the legal beneficial interest in the property. The four children were entitled to 2/3 of it. Meaning of Distribution Justice Kamalanathan referred to Soundara Achi v Kalyani Achi & Ors [1955] MLJ 147 and concluded that commencement of distribution of property does not start with the grant of letters of administration. The word distribution in the context of s 4 of the 1997 Act means it refers to the commencement of a step required to effect the actual transfer of the property. The learned judge opined that distribution of land requires a lengthy process. It includes the signing of the memorandum of transfer by administrator, lodgment of the duly executed transfer with the certificate of title and the actual registration of the title in the Registrar of Titles. The learned judge further stated that distribution of land should be deemed to have commenced as soon as an immediately registrable instrument is available, that is, when the transfer is executed with the administrators signature. Meaning of Property The learned judge held that the word property in s 4 of the 1997 Act should be construed as referring to the specific assets as comprising the partially

administered estate. (After the payment of the deceaseds debts, funeral and testamentary expenses.) According to the learned judge, property in s 4 of the 1997 Act should be taken as part of the assets of the estate. The preamble to the Distribution Act 1958 stated that it is an Act relating to the law of distribution of intestate estate, while s 4 of the 1997 Act is a provision which regulates the distribution of moveable and immoveable property. But the meanings of estate and property are not defined in both the Acts.

2. Whether steps are taken by administrator to distribute assets before the commencement of the Distribution (Amendment Act 1997)? The answer is no. The deceased was granted letters of administration by the court and it was issued to him on 27th January 1997. However, the deceased died before the property was properly transferred to his name. The judge stated that the distribution of the estate of a deceased who died intestate, shall be in accordance to s 4 of the 1997 Act that it is taken to have commenced on the date where steps have been taken by the administrator who was granted the letter of administration to transfer or distribute part of the assets of the estate as if the 1997 Act had not been passed. If no steps had been taken, then the distribution of the part of the assets of the estate shall follow the 1997 Act. Since the deceased did not take the necessary steps, he was not entitled to the whole of the property. The court decided that the children of Kong are entitled to have the priority to petition for the letter of administration de bonis non.