ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS
1. Short title
4. Variation of customary law in relation to inheritance
5. Capacity to dispose of property by will
6. Making of wills
7. Witness under will
8. Safe custody of wills
9. Revocation and alteration of wills
10. Effect of subsequent marriage and divorce
CONSTRUCTION OF WILLS
11. Intention of the testator to prevail
12. Where two constructions possible
13. Will to speak as from death
14. Technical words and terms not necessary
PROVISION IN A WILL FOR THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY OF THE TESTATOR
15. Provision for members of immediate family not adequately provided for by will
16. Property in respect of which there is intestacy
17. Principles of distribution of intestate property to immediate family and dependants
18. Inheritance of intestate property by other relations
19. Uncertainty regarding survivorship
JURISDICTION OF COURTS AND POWERS OF CONSULAR OFFICERS
20. Jurisdiction of courts and powers of consular officers
21. Grants to Consular Officers
22. Chief Justice to make probate rules
PROTECTION OF ESTATES PENDING GRANT
23. Receiver pending grant
24. Sale by order of court
25. Suits against receiver
26. Chief Justice to make rules for application for receiver
RENUNCIATION BY EXECUTORS
27. Express renunciation of right of probate
28. Citation and presumed renunciation
29. Effects of renunciation
GRANT OF PROBATE AND LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION BY THE COURT
30. Grants to corporations
31. Number of executors and administrators
32. Beneficiary may oppose appointment of executor or administrator
33. Grant of probate
34. Estate duty affidavit
35. Probate of copy, draft or contents of will
36. Codicil propounded after probate
37. Authenticated copy of will proved abroad
38. Effect of probate
39. Failure of executors
40. Attorney of absent executor
41. Attorney of person entitled to letters of administration
42. Codicil propounded after letters of administration granted
43. Letters of administration on intestacy
44. Attorney of person entitled to administration
45. Letters of administration pending production of will
46. Pending litigation
47. Trust property
48. Grants with exception
49. Grants of excepted part
50. Effects of grant of letters of administration or probate
51. Death of one of several executors or administrators
52. Death of sole or surviving executor or administrator
53. Expiry of limited grant when estate not fully administered
REVOCATION AND ALTERATION OF GRANTS AND REMOVAL OF EXECUTOR AND ADMINISTRATOR
54. Rectification of errors
55. Revocation of grants and removal of executors or administrators
56. Payments by or to representatives whose grants are revoked
57. Surrender of revoked grants
58. Sealing of certain grants made outside Malawi
60. Exercise of jurisdiction by magistrate courts
61. Relatives may agree between themselves
62. Private land
63. Institutional money
64. Production to court of a will and court to which application may be made
65. Administration grant
66. Effect of administration grant
67. Death or disability of administrator
69. Duties and powers of administrator or executor
70. Expenditure of care and management
71. Administrator or guardian not to derive benefit
72. Exercise of powers of several administrators
74. Offences by administrators and guardians
75. Subsequent discovery that estate dealt with as small estate exceeds limit of small estate
76. Chief Justice to make rules on small estates
77. Preservation of will and register of wills
78. Court’s discretion in matters of probate or letters of administration
79. Payment of salary of wages by employers
80. Sane murderer not to benefit from estate of victims
81. Application of Trustee Act
82. Proof of claims
83. Payments to representatives in country of domicile
84. Unlawful possession, etc., of deceased estate
85. Civic awareness
87. Periodic reports by executors and administrators
88. Offences by executors and administrators
89. Repeal and savings
90. Existing rights
14 of 2011
An Act to provide for the making of wills and the devolution of property under a will; the inheritance to the estates of persons dying without valid wills; the protection of deceased estates; the administration of deceased estates; the prosecution of offences relating to deceased estates; the civic education of the public; the functions of courts in relation to deceased estates and for other connected matters
[19TH AUGUST 2011]
This Act may be cited as the Deceased Estates (Wills, Inheritance and Protection) Act.
(1) Subject to subsection (2) This Act shall apply to the administration of estates of all persons dying domiciled, or leaving property, in Malawi on or after the date upon which it comes into operation; but any property belonging to the estate of such persons which, at the coming into operation of this Act, remains partly or wholly undistributed, shall be distributed in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
(2) This Act shall not apply to any benefit or other entitlement of a deceased person occuring out of a pension fund unless that benefit or entitlement was already payable or had accrued at the time of the deceased’s death.
(1) In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—
“administration grant” means the grant made under section 65;
“administrator” means a person to whom a grant of letters of administration or administration grant has been made under this Act;
“child” means a child of the deceased person, regardless of the circumstances of the birth of the child and includes an adopted child, and an unborn child in the womb of its mother;
“court” means the High Court or a court having jurisdiction as specified under section 20;
“court of probate” means a court or authority by whatever name designated, in any country, having jurisdiction in matters of probate;
“dependant” in relation to a deceased person means a person, other than a member of the immediate family, who was maintained by that deceased person immediately prior to his or her death and who was—
(a) his or her parent; or
(b) a minor whose education was being provided for by that deceased person, who is not capable, wholly or in part, of maintaining himself or herself;
“executor” means a person to whom the administration of the estate of a testator or part of such estate is entrusted by express or implied appointment under a will;
“hardship” in relation to any person means deprivation of the ordinary necessities of life according to the way of living enjoyed by that person during the lifetime of the intestate, an in the case of a minor includes deprivation of the opportunities for education which he or she could reasonably have expected had the intestate continued to live;
“guardian” means a person who has lawful or legitimate custody, care or control of a child in place of a parent;
“household belongings” means articles and effects of every description used in, and for the purpose, of maintaining and enjoying a home and family life;
“inheritable property” includes all causes of action which survive the deceased, clothing and institutional money but does not include any property which passes to another person by right of survivorship;
“institutional money” means money—
(a) held on a deposit or current account with a bank or a financial or similar institution;
(b) due under any policy of insurance or assurance;
(c) due under provisions of any provident fund or similar provision for employees;
(d) by way of gratuity, terminal benefits, leave pay or otherwise under the terms of employment of the deceased;
(e) received by any public officer, other than the Administrator General, or received by a bank or a financial or similar institution, as representing the property of a person domiciled in Malawi who has died outside Malawi;
(f) held by way of treasury bills or other government bonds;
(g) due under a court order;
(h) due under the Workers’ Compensation Act; or
(i) held in or with such other institution as the Minister may prescribe by an order published in the Gazette;
“immediate family”, in relation to any person, means that person’s spouse and children;
“intestate property” means property in respect of which there is an intestacy under section 16;
“Letters of Administration” means a formal document issued by a court appointing a person to manage the assets and liabilities of a deceased person;
“minor” means a person who has not yet attained the age of eighteen years unless—
(a) the person is lawfully married;
(b) the person is heading a household and is not below the age of fourteen years; or
(c) the person holds property in his or her own right in accordance with this Act or any other written law;
“parent” includes an adoptive parent, foster parent or any person acting in whatever way as parent;
“probate” means the certificate of the court that a will, of which a certified copy in accordance with the Oaths, Declarations and Affirmations Act is attached, has been proved a valid will;
“Probate Rules” means rules made by the Chief Justice under section 22;
“provident fund” means fund for the future welfare of any person and includes a similar provision for employees;
“Registrar” means the Registrar of the High Court as defined under the Courts Act;
“small estate” means the estate of a deceased person consisting of property which does not exceed K1,000,000 or such higher amount as the Minister shall from time to time specify by notice in Gazette in value at the date of the death of the deceased without making any deduction for debts;
“spouse” means a person’s husband or wife in relation to a marriage recognized under section 22 (5) of the Constitution;
“will” means a legal declaration by a person of his or her wishes or intentions regarding the disposition of his or her property after his or her death.
(2) A person is said to die intestate if he or she dies without leaving a will which is valid in accordance with Part II of the Act.
Except as provided for in this Act, no person shall be entitled under customary law or any other written law to take by inheritance any of the property to which a deceased person was entitled at the date of his or her death.
(1) Subject to this Act, a person who is of sound mind and is not a minor may dispose of all or any of his or her property after his or her death by will.
(2) A will may appoint persons who are not minors to administer the estate of the testator or any property which is disposed of by will.
(3) Subject to section 6, disposal of property by will may be made to any person and subject to any condition other than special provision.
(4) A parent may by his or her will appoint a guardian of his or her minor child for the administration of the benefits of such child under the will; and subject to Part XIII, a guardian so appointed shall, to the exclusion of any customary guardian, have such powers as are conferred by law upon a guardian.
(5) Where a person appointed as a guardian under subsection (4) dies or otherwise desists from taking up the appointment, the court shall appoint another person as a guardian in the absence of the initial appointee.
(6) A will may nominate a subordinate court to which applications relating to the administration of the testator’s estate may be made and a court so nominated shall, subject to section 20, have jurisdiction accordingly.
(1) Every will shall be made in writing and shall be signed by the testator in the presence of at least two competent witnesses who shall also sign the will in the presence of the testator and in the presence of each other as witnesses to the signature of the testator.
(2) Any person who is of sound mind and is not a minor shall be a competent witness for the purpose of this section.
(3) A will may be made outside Malawi in respect of any property in Malawi and a will so made shall be valid if made in accordance with the provisions of this section or of the law of the place where it was made, or the law of the place where the testator had his or her domicile when the will was made.
(4) Notwithstanding the other provisions of this section and of section 5 (1), a member of the Malawi Police Service, or a member of the defence force of Malawi, on actual service as such, may make a will which shall be valid that any of the formalities required by this section have not been complied with.
(5) Subject to subsection (6), the Minister may, for the guidance of the general public, by notice in the Gazette, prescribe a form in which a will may be made.
(6) The validity of a will shall not be affected by reason of the fact that it is not made in the form prescribed by the Minister or any other form if that will otherwise complies with the requirements of this section.
(1) Subject to subsection (2), a person who witnesses the testator’s signature of a will and a spouse of such witness shall not be entitled to take any benefit under the will but shall be entitled to act as executor of the will:
Provided that a beneficiary under a will shall not be disentitled to a benefit under the will by reason that he or she or his or her spouse has attested a codicil confirming the will.
(2) A benefit under a will to a witness who is a member of the immediate family of the testator shall be valid if a court is satisfied, upon the application of or on behalf of the witness, that—
(a) there was no other competent person who could have been witness to the will;
(b) the benefit is fair in all the circumstances or the benefit consists of property that would have devolved to the witness upon intestacy; and
(c) there is no evidence of fraud, coercion, undue influence or other impropriety or suspicious circumstances surrounding the making of the will.
(3) A benefit to a witness as provided under subsection (2) shall not take effect except upon an order of the court made after hearing the application in respect thereof confirming the conditions set out in that subsection.
(1) A living person may deposit his or her will for safe custody with the Registrar or at the office of the District Commissioner or a resident magistrate or a magistrate of the first grade subject to such conditions relating to the deposit and withdrawal thereof as may be prescribed in Probate Rules.
(2) Nothing in this section shall preclude the deposit of a will with any other person, whether such other person is a bank, an insurer, a law firm, an administrator of a provident fund or an employer.
(1) The testator may at any time revoke his or her will—
(a) by destroying the will with the intention to revoke it; or
(b) by making, in a subsequent will or some document executed like a will, a statement of his or her intention to that effect.
(2) Where a testator dies having made more than one will the latest in time of the said wills shall prevail over the earlier wills to the extent of any revocation, variation or inconsistency.
(3) No obliteration, interlineations or other alteration made in a will after its execution has any effect unless such alteration is signed and attested as a will is required to be signed and attested under section 6, or is referred to in a memorandum written at the end or some other part of the will and so signed and attested.
(1) A will shall be revoked by the marriage after the making of the will by the testator unless the will was made in contemplation of marriage with the person who becomes the spouse of the testator as the case may be.
(2) Upon the end of a marriage of a testator by reason of divorce, unless the will provides otherwise—
(a) any gift made in a will in existence at the time the marriage ends by the testator to the spouse; or
(b) any appointment of the spouse as an executor trustee, advisory trustee or guardian made by the will hall be revoked.
CONSTRUCTION OF WILLS
(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part and Part IV, it shall be the duty of a court, in construing a will, to give effect to the intention of the testator so far as such intention can be ascertained from the wording of the will, and, in so doing, the court shall not be bound to follow any statutory provision, rule of common law or doctrine of equity.
(2) The intention of a testator, as disclosed by his or her will, shall not be set aside because it cannot take effect to the full extent, but effect shall be given to it as far as possible.
Where any clause of a will is susceptible of two meanings, one of which has some effect and one of which can have none, the former shall be preferred.
(1) Every will shall be construed with reference to the estate comprised therein, so as to take effect as if made immediately before the death of the testator.
(2) A gift to a person who predeceases the testator shall lapse and be of no effect.
It shall not be necessary for technical words or terms of art to be used in a will, but only that the wording be such that the intention of the testator can be ascertained there form
PROVISION IN A WILL FOR THE IMMEDIATE FAMILY OF THE TESTATOR
(1) Subject to section 11, on the application in the prescribed manner of a person claiming to be, or to be acting on behalf of, a member of the immediate family of a testator, a court may, if it is satisfied that—
(a) the applicant is a member of the immediate family or person acting on behalf of such member; and
(b) the testator has inadvertently or otherwise, omitted to make a reasonable provision in his or her will for such member,
order that a reasonable provision shall be made for the member in accordance with this section.
(2) Where an application is made under subsection (1), it shall be competent for the court to order, as the court considers on reasonable grounds to be just and proper, that such part of the value of the testator’s estate after payment of the testator’s debts and funeral and administration expenses of the estate, be applied for the maintenance of the member, and the manner in which it is to be so applied.
(3) In considering whether an order under this section should be made and, if so, what order is proper, the court shall have regard to—
(a) the nature of testator’s property;
(b) any past, present or future capital or income from any source of the applicant;
(c) the conduct of the applicant in relation to the testator and otherwise;
(d) the circumstances of the other members of the immediate family and the beneficiaries under the will; and
(e) the general circumstances of the case.
If a person dies without having left a will valid under section 6, there shall be an intestacy in respect of the property to which he or she was entitled at the date of his or her death:
Provided that if the deceased person left a will which does not dispose of all his or her property there shall be an intestacy in respect of the property which is not disposed of by will.
(1) Upon intestacy, the persons entitled to inherit the intestate of fair property shall be the members of the immediate family and dependants of the intestate, and their shares shall be ascertained upon the following principles of fair distribution—
(a) protection shall be provided for members of the immediate family and dependants from hardship so far as the property available for distribution can provide such protection;
(b) every spouse of the intestate shall be entitled to retain all the household belongings which belong to his or her household;
(c) if any property shall remain after paragraphs (a) and (b) have been complied with, the remaining property shall be divided between the surviving spouse or spouses, the children, and the parents of the intestate;
(d) as between the surviving spouse or spouses and the children of the intestate, their shares shall be determined in accordance with all the special circumstances including—
(i) any wishes expressed by the intestate in the presence of reliable witnesses;
(ii) such assistance by way of education or other basic necessities any of the spouses or children may have received from the intestate during his or her lifetime; and
(iii) any contribution made by the spouse or child of the intestate to the value of any business or other property forming part of the estate of the intestate, and in this regard the surviving spouse shall be considered to have contributed to the business unless proof to the contrary is shown by or on behalf of the child,
but in the absence of special circumstances the spouses and children shall, subject to subsection (3) be entitled to equal shares;
(e) as among the children of the intestate, the age of each child shall be taken into account with the younger child being entitled to a greater share of the property than the older child unless the interests of the children require otherwise; and
(f) in the absence of any spouse or child of the intestate the property described in paragraph (c) shall be distributed between the dependants of the intestate, if more than one, in equal shares.
(2) If the intestate left more than one female spouse surviving him each living in a different locality, each spouse and her children by the intestate shall be entitled to a share of the property of the intestate in their locality in accordance with this section; but such spouse and children shall have no claim to any share of the property of the intestate in the locality where another spouse lives:
Provided that this subsection shall not apply to the property of the intestate of a value exceeding a small estate or institutional money or private land.
(3) If the intestate left more than one female spouse surviving him all living in the same locality, each spouse and her children by the intestate shall be entitled to a share of the property of the intestate proportionate to their contribution.
(4) Re-marriage shall not deprive a surviving spouse of property inherited under intestacy except in the case of property on customary land where title in that property shall devolve to the children of the spouse by the intestate upon the re-marriage of the surviving spouse.
In the absence of the beneficiaries to the estate of an intestate referred to under section 17, the whole of such property comprising the estate of the intestate shall be distributed as follows—
(a) the grandchildren of the intestate shall, if they survive the intestate, be entitled in equal shares;
(b) if none of the persons referred to in paragraph (a) survive the intestate, the brothers and sisters of the whole blood of the intestate shall, if they survive the intestate, be entitled in equal shares and failing any surviving brothers and sisters of the whole blood of the intestate, the brothers and sisters of the half blood of the intestate shall, if they survive the intestate, be entitled in equal shares;
(c) if none of the persons referred to in paragraphs (a) and (b) survive the intestate, the grandparents of the intestate shall, if they survive the intestate, be entitled in equal shares;
(d) if none of the persons referred to in paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) survive the intestate, the uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces of the intestate shall be entitled in equal shares;
(e) if none of the persons referred to in paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) survive the intestate, other relatives who are in the nearest degree of consanguinity shall, if they survive the intestate, be entitled in equal shares; or
(f) if none of the persons referred to in paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) survive the intestate, the Government shall be entitled to take title in the property comprising the estate of the intestate.
Where two or more persons have died in circumstances rendering it uncertain which of them survived the other or others, such death shall, subject to any order of a court, for all purposes affecting rights in, to or over property, be presumed to have occurred in order of seniority in the age of the deceased persons, and accordingly the younger shall be deemed to have survived the elder.
JURISDICTION OF COURTS AND POWERS OF CONSULAR OFFICERS
(1) Subject to this section, the High Court shall have jurisdiction in all matters relating to the probate and the administration of estates of deceased persons, with power to grant probates of wills and letters of administration to the estates of deceased persons and to alter or revoke such grants.
(2) The High Court shall have jurisdiction to reseal grants of probate and letters of administration made by a court of probate in any country.
(3) A court of a resident magistrate or a court of a magistrate of the first grade shall exercise jurisdiction relating to the estate of a deceased person which is a small estate to grant probate and letters of administration in relation thereto.
(4) No act of a magistrate exercising jurisdiction under subsection (3) shall be invalid because it is afterwards discovered that the gross value of the estate exceeds the limit of a small estate but the magistrate shall report to the High Court any such discovery of which he or she becomes aware.
(5) The High Court may direct that any proceedings under this Act in a court of a resident magistrate or magistrate of the first grade are to be removed to and continued in the High Court:
Provided that the High Court shall not give any direction under this subsection unless it considers that it is necessary in the interests of justice or for the protection of a beneficiary or creditor that the estate should be administered under the supervision of the High Court.
(6) The High Court may authorize the payment to an executor or administrator of remuneration for his or her services as such, to such extent as, in all circumstances, appears reasonable:
Provided that nothing in this subsection shall be construed so as to deprive an executor of remuneration to which he or she is entitled under the provisions of a will.
(1) Where a foreign national—
(a) dies within Malawi; or
(b) dies outside Malawi leaving property within Malawi, and no person is present in Malawi at the time of his or her death who is rightfully entitled to administer the estate of such deceased person, a consular officer of the foreign state of which the deceased is a national, within Malawi, may take possession of the property of such deceased person, and shall be entitled to obtain from the court letters of administration of the property of such deceased person limited in such manner as the court may deem fit.
(2) Where any person who is a foreign national is a person to whom a grant of representation to the estate of a deceased person in Malawi may be made, then, if the court is satisfied that such national is not resident in Malawi, the court may, on the application of a consular officer of the foreign state of which the deceased person is a national, make to that consular officer such grant of representation to the estate of the deceased as would be made to him or her if he or she were duly authorized by power of attorney to act for the person entitled to the grant.
(3) Letters of administration granted to a consular officer shall be granted to him or her in his or her official style and title and not in his or her personal name, and the estate of the deceased shall vest in each successive holder of the office during his or her continuance in office without any order of court or instrument whatsoever.
(4) Where a person who is a foreign national—
(a) is entitled to any money or other property in Malawi forming part of the estate of a deceased person, or to receive payment in Malawi of any money becoming due on the death of a deceased person; or
(b) is among the persons to whom any money or other property of a deceased person may under any written law be paid or delivered without any grant of probate or other proof of title,
then, if that national is not resident in Malawi, a consular officer of the foreign state of which he or she is a national shall have the right and power to receive and give a valid discharge for any such money or property as if he or she were duly authorized by power of attorney to act for him in that behalf:
Provided that no person shall be authorized or required by this subsection to pay or deliver any money or property to a consular officer if it is within his or her knowledge that any other person in Malawi has been expressly authorized to receive that money or property on behalf of such national.
(5) Notwithstanding any rule of law conferring immunity or privilege in respect of the official acts and documents of consular officers, a consular officer shall not be entitled to any immunity or privilege in respect of any act done by virtue of the powers conferred on him or her by or under this section or in respect of any document for the time being in his or her possession relating thereto.
(1) The Chief Justice may make Probate Rules—
(a) regulating proceedings for the grant of probate and letters of administration and other proceedings under this Act;
(b) for the procedure to be observed in relation to wills deposited under section 8 and for the preservation, copying and inspection of wills and grants of probate and administration;
(c) prescribing fees and forms; and
(d) generally in relation to matters of probate and letters of administration.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), Probate Rules may require a person to whom a grant of letters of administration is made to give security for the due administration of the estate by a bond with one or more sureties and for the furnishing of accounts to court.
(3) A bond for the due administration of an estate shall engage the parties thereto to make payment to the Registrar or a resident magistrate or magistrate of the first grade.
(4) Upon the application of any person beneficially interested in the estate and upon being satisfied that the engagement of any such bond has not been kept the Court may direct the Registrar to, or a resident magistrate or a magistrate of the first grade shall, assign the bond to some proper person and thereupon such person shall be entitled to sue on the bond in his or her own name as if it had originally been given to him or her and not to the Registrar or resident magistrate or magistrate of the first grade and to recover thereon, as trustee for all persons interested, the full amount recoverable in respect of any breach thereof.
PROTECTION OF ESTATES PENDING GRANT
Where any person dies leaving property in Malawi, the court, may appoint such person as the court thinks fit to be a receiver of probate or letters of administration, if it appears on the application of any person—
(a) claiming to be interested in such property;
(b) having custody or control thereof at the time of the death of the deceased; or
(c) being at such time an attorney of the deceased,
that there is danger that such property may be wasted or may otherwise be dealt with in contravention of this Act.
The court may, on application by a receiver of property appointed under section 23, or any person interested in the estate, order the sale of the whole or any part of such property, if it appears that such sale will be beneficial to the estate.
A person aggrieved may bring a suit against a receiver appointed under section 23 in relation to any thing done or intended to be done by him or her in respect of the property of the deceased in the exercise or intended exercise of the powers vested in him or her.
The Chief Justice may make rules to guide the court in hearing an to application for appointment of a receiver under section 23.
RENUNCIATION BY EXECUTORS
A person who is entitled to probate may expressly renounce such right orally on the hearing of any application to the court or in writing signed by the person making the renunciation and attested by a person before whom an affidavit may be sworn.
(1) A person claiming an interest in the estate of a deceased person or a creditor of a deceased person may cause to be issued by the court a citation directed to the executors appointed by the will of the deceased calling upon them to accept or renounce their executorship.
(2) A person served with a citation may acknowledge service thereof, but if he or she defaults on the terms of the acknowledgement of the service, he or she shall be deemed to have renounced his or her executorship; and if, having made such acknowledgement, he or she does not proceed to apply for probate, the court may limit the time within which such application is to be made and if the application for probate is not made within the time so limited the executor in default shall be deemed to have renounced his or her right to probate and the court may appoint another person it deems fit to be the executor of the estate.
Renunciation under section 27 or 28 shall preclude the right of the person so renouncing to probate but the court may at any time grant probate to such person if it is shown that the grant is likely to benefit the estate or the persons interested therein.
GRANT OF PROBATE AND LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION BY THE COURT
(1) A corporation or company or trust corporation may be granted probate or letters of administration either solely or jointly with another person.
(2) Probate or letters of administration shall not be granted to a syndic or nominee on behalf of a corporation or company.
(1) Probate or letters of administration shall not be granted to more than four persons in respect of the same property.
(2) In the case of a minority or life interest under a will or on intestacy, probate or letters of administration shall, subject to the maximum number specified in subsection (1), be granted to not less than two persons and a court shall appoint another person to act as an executor or an administrator in such cases if there is one person acting as such at any time.
Any beneficiary under a will or on intestacy may apply to the court opposing the appointment of an executor or administrator under a will or on intestacy.
(1) Probate may be granted only to an executor appointed by the will, and shall not be granted to a minor or person of unsound mind.
(2) The appointment of an executor may be express or by necessary implication.
(3) Where several executors are appointed, probate may be granted to them simultaneously or at different times.
(4) If an executor is appointed by the will for a limited purpose only, probate shall not be granted to him or her except limited to that purpose.
Every application for a grant of probate or letters of administration shall be accompanied by a copy of the estate duty affidavit and by a certificate of the Secretary to the Estate Duty Commissioners under section 33 of the Estate Duty Act.
(1) Where a will has been lost or mislaid or has been destroyed by a wrong or an accident, and not only by any act of the testator—
(a) if a copy or draft of the will has been preserved, probate may be granted of such copy or draft, limited until the original or a properly authenticated copy of it is admitted to probate;
(b) if no such copy or draft has been preserved, probate, limited as provided in paragraph (a), may be granted to the contents of the will if they can be established by evidence.
(2) Where a will is in the possession of a person outside Malawi who has refused or neglected to deliver it up, but a copy has been transmitted to the executor, probate may, if the interests of the estate so require, be granted of the copy so transmitted, limited as provided in paragraph (a).
Where, after probate has been granted, a codicil of the will is propounded, probate may be granted of the codicil:
Provided that where the codicil expressly revokes the appoint-ment of any executor to whom probate has been granted, such probate shall be revoked and a new probate granted of the will and codicil together.
Where a will has been proved and deposited in a court of competent jurisdiction outside Malawi, and a properly authenticated copy of the will is produced, probate may be granted of the authenticated copy of the will or letters of administration granted with a copy of the authenticated copy of the will attached.
(1) Probate of a will when granted establishes the will and evidences the title of the executor from the death of the testator.
(2) Probate of a will shall also have the effects described in section 50.
(1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3), where—
(a) no executor is appointed by a will;
(b) the executor or all the executors appointed by a will have renounced, or are persons to whom probate may not be granted;
(c) no executor survives the testator;
(d) all the executors die before obtaining probate or before having administered all the estate of the deceased; or
(e) the executors appointed by any will do not appear and take out probate,
letters of administration with the will annexed may be granted of the whole estate or so much thereof as may be unadministered to such person or persons as the court deems the fittest to administer the estate.
(2) A prior right to such grant shall belong to the following persons in the following order—
(a) a universal or residuary beneficiary;
(b) an executor or administrator of a deceased’s universal or residuary beneficiary;
(c) such person or persons, being beneficiaries under the will, as would have been entitled to a grant of letters of administration if the deceased had died intestate;
(d) a beneficiary having a beneficial interest;
(e) a creditor of the deceased; and
(f) the Administrator General as the public trustee.
(3) A court shall not grant letters of administration with the will annexed in respect of a will by which an executor is appointed, if the executor—
(a) is living and his or her whereabouts are known; and
(b) is a person to whom probate may be granted; and
(c) has not renounced his or her office,
unless and until a citation has been issued calling upon the executor to accept or renounce his or her office and the executor has renounced or has been deemed to have renounced his or her office in accordance with sections 27 and 28.
Where any executor is absent from Malawi, and there is no other executor within Malawi willing to act, letters of administration with the will annexed may be granted to a lawfully constituted attorney, ordinarily resident within Malawi, of the absent executor, limited until the absent executor obtains probate for himself or herself, and in the meantime to any purpose to which the attorney’s authority is limited.
Where any person, to whom letters of administration might be granted under section 39, is absent from Malawi, letters of administration with the will annexed may be granted to his lawfully constituted attorney ordinarily resident in Malawi, limited in the manner provided in section 40.
The provisions of section 36 shall apply in the case of a grant of administration with the will annexed in like manner as they apply in the case of a grant of probate.
(1) Where the deceased has died intestate, letters of administration of his or her estate may be granted to any person who, under sections 17 or 18, would be entitled to the whole or any part of such deceased’s estate.
(2) Where more than one person applies for letters of administration, it shall be in the discretion of the court to make a grant to any one or more of them, and in the exercise of its discretion the court shall take into account greater and immediate interests in the deceased’s estate in priority to lesser or more remote interests.
(3) Where no person as mentioned in subsection (1) applies for letters of administration, letters of administration may be granted to a creditor of the deceased.
(4) Where it appears to the court to be necessary or convenient to appoint some person to administer the estate or any part thereof other than the person who under ordinary circumstances would be entitled to a grant of letters of administration, the court may, in its discretion, having regard to consanguinity, amount of interest, the safety of the estate and probability that it will be properly administered, appoint such person as it thinks fit to be administrator; and in every such case letters of administration may be limited or not as the court thinks fit.
Where a person entitled to letters of administration in the case of an intestacy is absent from Malawi, and no person equally entitled is willing to act, letters of administration may be granted to a lawfully constituted attorney, ordinarily resident in Malawi, of such person, limited until such person obtains letters of administration himself or herself and in the meantime to any purpose to which the attorney’s authority is limited.
When no will of the deceased is forthcoming, but there is reason to believe that there is a will in existence, letters of administration may be granted, limited until the will or an authenticated copy thereof is produced.
Pending the determination of any proceedings touching the validity of the will of a deceased person or for obtaining or revoking any probate or any grant of letters of administration, the court may appoint an administrator of the estate of such deceased person, who shall have all the rights and powers of a general administrator other than the right of distributing such estate, and every such administrator shall be subject to the immediate control of the court and shall act under its discretion.
Where a person dies, leaving property of which he or she was the sole surviving trustee, or in which he or she had no beneficial interest on his or her own account, and leaves no genera) representative, or one who is unable or unwilling to act as such, letters of administration, limited to such property, may be granted to the beneficiary, or to some other person on his or her behalf.
Whenever the nature of the case requires that an exception be made, probate or letters of administration with or without the will annexed shall be granted subject to such exception.
Whenever a grant with exception of probate or letters of administration with or without the will annexed has been made, further grant may be made of the part of the estate so excepted.
(1) Subject to all such limitations and exceptions contained therein and, where the grant is made for a special purpose, for that purpose only, letters of administration shall entitle the administrator to all rights belonging to the deceased as if the letters of administration had been granted at the moment of his or her death:
Provided that letters of administration shall not render valid any intermediate acts of the administrator tending to the diminution or damage of an intestate’s estate.
(2) Probate and, subject to subsection (1), letters of administration have effect over all the inheritable property of the deceased throughout Malawi and—
(a) shall be conclusive against all debtors of the deceased and all persons holding inheritable property of the deceased;
(b) afford full indemnity to all debtors paying their debts, and all persons delivering up such property to the person to whom such probate or letters of administration shall have been granted.
Subject to section 31, where probate or letters of administration have been granted to more than one executor or administrator and one of them dies, the representation of the estate to be administered shall, in the absence of any direction in the will or grant, accrue to the surviving executor or administrator.
Subject to section 31, on the death of a sole or sole surviving executor or who has proved the will or of a sole or sole surviving administrator, letters of administration may be granted in respect of that part of the estate not fully administered, and in granting such letters of administration the court shall apply the same provisions as apply to original grants:
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