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Section 3 of the Small Estates (Distribution) Act 1955 [“SEDA 1955“] governs the application of SEDA 1955 and the defines a “small estate” for the purposes of SEDA 1955:

“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.

(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.” (Emphasis ours)

In 2021, both houses of Parliament passed the Small Estates (Distribution) (Amendment) Act 2022 [“Amendment Act“].

The Amendment Act, amongst others, amended Section 3(2) of the SEDA 1955 to:

(i) substitute the words “wholly or partly of immovable” for the words “of any”; and

(ii) substitute the words “two million” for the words “five million.”

Section 3(2) of the SEDA 1955, as amended by the Amendment Act, reads as follows:

“For the purposes of this Act a small estate means an estate of a deceased person consisting of any property situated in any State and not exceeding five million ringgit in total value.” (Emphasis ours)

However, at the time of writing, the Amendment Act has not come into operation.

Until the Minister issues a notification in the Gazette of the appointment of date of coming into operation of the Amendment Act, the pre-amendment wordings of Section 3(2) of the SEDA 1955 is applicable.

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