ADMINISTRATION OF SMALL ESTATES
3 Application of Part and definition of small estate
(1) This Part shall have effect throughout Malaysia.
(2) For the purposes of this Act, a small estate means an estate of a deceased person consisting wholly or partly of immovable property situated in any State and not exceeding two million ringgit in total value.
(Proviso omitted by P.U. (B) 217/1974).
(3) For the purposes of this section, the value of the property comprised in an estate shall be deemed to be its value at the date of the filing of a petition for probate or letters of administration or lodging of a petition for distribution under this Act in respect of the estate or, if more than one such petition has been filed or lodged in respect of the same estate, at the date of the filing or lodging of the earliest petition.
(4) In ascertaining the value of the property comprised in an estate, no deduction shall be made on account of the debts of the deceased but there shall not be included in the estate for those purposes any property which the deceased held or was entitled to as a trustee and not beneficially:
Provided that any land held in the name of the deceased by any form of registered title shall be deemed to be part of his estate whether subject to caveat or not unless the land is expressly registered in his name as representative or as trustee or as guardian.
4 Jurisdiction in respect of small estates
(1) Save as in this Act otherwise provided, no interest in any small estate shall devolve on or vest in any person by virtue of any instrument other than an order or grant made under this Act.
(2) The Land Administrator of the district where a petition has been lodged or in the case of more than one petition has been lodged, the Land Administrator of the district where the first petition has been lodged, shall have exclusive jurisdiction to deal with the distribution and administration of the whole estate wherever situated:
Provided that the Director of Lands and Mines where all the property is situated in one State or the Director General of Lands and Mines where the property is situated partly in one State and partly in another, may upon application duly made in that behalf, order that any petition under this Act shall be heard and determined by the Land Administrator of any other district, notwithstanding that the property in that district consists solely of movable property, whenever it is made to appear that such an order will tend to the general convenience of the parties or witnesses or is otherwise expedient for the ends of justice; and the Land Administrator shall thereupon have exclusive jurisdiction to order distribution of the estate and, if necessary, to grant letters of administration thereof.
(3) Any order made by the Director of Lands and Mines or the Director General of Lands and Mines under subsection (2) shall be final and not subject to any appeal.
(4) A copy of any order made under subsection (2) shall be sent to the applicant and to any Land Administrator who in the opinion of the Director of Lands and Mines or the Director General of Lands and Mines, as the case may be, is affected thereby.
(5) The Land Administrator for each district in which is situated any part of the immovable property comprised in an estate in respect of which a petition for distribution has been lodged or a valuation officer shall determine the value of that property, as at the date of lodging the petition, or, if more than one petition has been lodged, as at the date of lodging the earliest petition, and every such valuation shall be conclusive for the purposes of this Act.
5 High Court to grant probate of testamentary dispositions relating to small estates
(1) Subject to this section, nothing in this Act shall affect the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court to grant probate of any will or testamentary disposition or letters of administration in any case in which the deceased has left a valid will or other valid testamentary disposition in respect of a small estate or part thereof and the grant when made shall have effect in all respects as if the estate had not been a small estate.
(2) If upon the hearing of any petition for probate or for letters of administration with a will or copy of a will annexed, probate or letters of administration with the will or a copy of a will annexed are not granted, the Court may if satisfied that all the necessary parties are before the Court-
(a) grant letters of administration to any person to whom letters would have been granted on an intestacy if the estate had not been a small estate;
(b) direct that a petition for distribution of the estate be lodged under section 8; or
(c) order any Land Administrator named in the order to proceed with the distribution of the estate as if a petition therefore had been duly lodged.
(3) Where any order is made under paragraph (2)(c), the Land Administrator therein named shall, upon receipt of a copy of the order, forthwith proceed to distribute the estate in accordance with this Act.
6 High Court to have power to reseal a grant of representation affecting a small estate
Nothing in this Act shall affect the exclusive jurisdiction of the High Court to reseal any grant of representation made outside Malaysia in respect of the estate of a deceased person and where any grant has been resealed affecting a small estate, the grant shall have effect as if the estate had not been a small estate.
7 Power of the Registrar to transfer petitions relating to an intestate small estate to a Land Administrator
(1) If the Registrar is satisfied that any intestate estate in respect of which a petition for letters of administration has been filed in the High Court is a small estate, he shall transfer such petition to the Land Administrator having jurisdiction to order distribution of that estate under section 4 and the Land Administrator may at his discretion either treat the petition as if it were a petition for distribution of the estate under section 8 or if the case so requires direct that a fresh petition under that section shall be lodged.
(2) If at any stage of any proceedings in the High Court relating to the estate of a deceased person it appears-
(a) that the deceased was a member of a tribe within the meaning of Part III or that any part of the estate was property affected by a tribal custom within the scope of Part III; or
(b) that the deceased at the time of his death was a native of Sabah,
the proceedings shall be stayed and the matter shall be referred to the Director General of Lands and Mines and the proceedings shall not be continued in the High Court unless the Director General of Lands and Mines has certified in writing under his hand that the estate is not, or is not deemed to be, a small estate under this Act.
8 Petition for distribution
(1) Where any person has died intestate leaving a small estate, any person claiming to be interested in the estate as a beneficiary, or a creditor, or a purchaser, or in the circumstances mentioned in subsection 18(1), the penghulu or a Settlement Officer of the district or of the locality in which any land of which the deceased was the proprietor is situated, or the *Corporation, may lodge with the Land Administrator at any district wherever the immovable property comprised in the estate is situated a petition, in the prescribed form, for the distribution of the estate.
(2) The petitioner shall deliver to the Land Administrator all issue documents of title or other documents evidencing title to immovable property relating to the estate in his possession or power.
(3) The Land Administrator shall thereupon give notice to the principal registry of the High Court of the lodging with him of the petition and shall ascertain from the registry whether any petition relating to the estate has, before that petition having been lodged, been filed in the High Court or lodged with any other Land Administrator.
(4) If no such petition has been so filed or lodged, the Land Administrator shall investigate the facts and matters alleged in the petition and determine whether the estate is or is not a small estate and whether he has jurisdiction under section 4.
(5) For the purpose of determining whether any estate is or is not a small estate, the Land Administrator or a valuation officer shall value the movable property comprised therein wherever situate, if any.
(6) The valuation of the movable property comprised in an estate by the Land Administrator or a valuation officer under this section shall be conclusive for the purpose of this Act.
(7) If the Land Administrator decides that the estate is not a small estate, he shall transfer the petition, with or without amendment, to the High Court and the petition shall, unless the Court otherwise directs, be treated therein as if it were a petition for letters of administration upon an intestacy;
Provided that this subsection shall not apply in any case where a petition in respect of the estate has been transferred to the Land Administrator under subsection 7(1).
(8) If the Land Administrator decides that the estate is a small estate, he shall deal with the petition in accordance with subsection 4(2) but if it appears to him that it would be more expedient for the petition to be heard by another Land Administrator, he may apply to the Director of Lands and Mines or the Director General of Lands and Mines, as the case may require, for an order to be made under subsection 4(2).
(9) If upon ascertaining from the principal registry of the High Court, the Land Administrator has notice that any other petition for distribution had been previously lodged in respect of the estate with any other Land Administrator or that any application has been made to the Director of Lands and Mines or the Director General of Lands and Mines under subsection 4(2) or that any petition for probate or letters of administration with a will or a copy of a will annexed has been filed in the High Court in respect of the estate, he shall forthwith stay all proceedings upon the petition before him until either, as the case may be, an order has been made by the Court under paragraph 5(2)(c) directing him to distribute the estate or an order has been made under subsection 4(2) conferring jurisdiction upon him.
*NOTE-The original provision which used the words "Official Administrator" is now construed as "Corporation" - see subsection 43(3) of the Public Trust Corporation Act 1995 [Act 532].
8A When any movable property is administered by the Corporation
Where a petition for distribution is lodged with a Land Administrator and that any movable property comprised in the estate had been administered by the Corporation, the Corporation shall deliver to the Land Administrator any document relating to the property for the purpose of determining whether the estate is or is not a small estate.
9 Service of notice of petition for distribution
(1) Subject to section 8, the Land Administrator having jurisdiction in respect of the small estate shall, as soon as possible, after the lodging of the petition for distribution thereof, cause notice of the petition and of the date and place of hearing to be served in the prescribed manner upon all persons who are named in the petition as beneficiaries of or claimants to the estate or any interest therein or who appear to the Land Administrator to be interested in the distribution of the estate:
Provided that no proceedings under this Act shall be invalid on account of any omission or failure to serve any such notice upon any person unless the omission or failure has in the opinion of the High Court occasioned any substantial injustice.
(2) The Land Administrator shall also cause notice of the petition and of the date and place of the hearing thereof to be published in such manner and at such times and places as may be prescribed.
10 Appointment of representatives of minors or persons of unsound mind
(1) Where any person, who is named in the petition as a beneficiary of or claimant to the estate or any interest therein or who appears to the Land Administrator to be interested in the distribution of the estate, is or appears to the Land Administrator to be a minor or a person of unsound mind, the Land Administrator may, by an order in writing, appoint some suitable and proper person to be the guardian of the minor or person of unsound mind for the purposes of all proceedings for the distribution of the estate under this Act and all such proceedings shall be as effective and binding upon all persons concerned as if that person had not been a minor or person of unsound mind.
(2) In appointing a person to be a guardian under this section, the Land Administrator shall have regard to any personal law or custom affecting the minor or person of unsound mind.
11 Place of hearing of petition for distribution
(1) Every petition for distribution shall be heard in such place in his district as the Land Administrator having regard to the convenience of the parties and witnesses generally may appoint.
(2) Every place in which a petition for distribution is heard shall during the hearing be deemed an open and public place to which the public shall have access.
(3) Without prejudice to the extent of his powers under subsection (1), where the question, or one of the questions, at issue in any hearing of a petition for distribution relates to a particular lot of land, the Land Administrator may, in his discretion, hold the hearing, or any part thereof at a convenient place on or near to that land.